Spes A Stellis

Last night was a full moon. It was still high in the sky when I left for school this morning, and visible through the pale, clear sky as I walked to my first class.

This is important. You will see why. Just allow me a moment.

I saw the moon and looked upon it with wonder, as I often do. It is, after all, a marvel. To think of all that it does for us, all that it represents. Newton saw an apple fall, wondered if the moon fell too, and thus the laws of motion and gravitation were born. A thousand ancient peoples looked into the sky and created a thousand creation myths around it. Generations of modern men have looked upon it and thought, why can't I go there?

And we went. Twelve meant have walked upon the surface of another world - and do you know how wondrous that is? Four of those men are dead. The rest are in their eighties and may soon die. We will soon live in a world where men are capable of traveling to other worlds, but where none have ever been.

To quote the book I am reading now (Contact by Carl Sagan):

At the very moment that humans discovered the scale of the universe and found that their most unconstrained fancies were in fact dwarfed by the true dimensions of even the Milky Way Galaxy, they took steps that ensured that their descendants would be unable to see the stars at all. For a million years humans had grown up with a personal daily knowledge of the vault of heaven. In the last few thousand years they began building and emigrating to the cities. In the last few decades, a major fraction of the human population has abandoned a rustic way of life. As technology developed and the cities were polluted, the nights became starless. New generations grew to maturity wholly ignorant of the sky that had transfixed their ancestors and that had stimulated the modern age of science and technology. Without even noticing, just as astronomy entered a golden age most people cut themselves off from the sky, a cosmic isolationism that ended only with the dawn of space exploration.

And so I thought: what the human race needs now is another space race.

This has really little to do with the moon itself. It is beautiful, it is glorious, and we should go back - but that thought alone did not drive my thoughts. My thought was: what a cold, miserable, unbearable place Earth has become. Humanity has lost its hope. There are such terrible, terrible wars - wars fought for no purpose or, worse still, fought over religion. There is terror, which never really existed on such as scale until horrors could be broadcast nightly into homes halfway around the world. On a personal level, to quote again (from tumblr):

My generation is criticized and toiled with, and I don't see why not - just turn on the TV and watch what they're feeding us. But my generation is not lazy. My generation fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. My generation fought for womens rights in a fury that hadn't been seen since the 19th Amendment. My generation got our first black President elected. My generation fought for Gay rights for the first time in American history. And with all that, we are apathetic, and that's because things aren't going to be better for us down the road. We are the first generation expected to make less than our parents. We are the first generation to see America lost its status as a super power. We've lived through the worst economic times since the Great Depression, and are forced to take out thousands of dollars in student loans at the same time, all while our college degrees slowly turn into a highschool diploma. We've done plenty, and expect nothing. So no, I wouldn't say we're lazy, just apathetic.

And so, thinking this, I thought: what the human race needs now is hope.

There are several small projects to this effect already - my mother was talking about the Happiness Project earlier, on the idea that, if you're happier, or act that way, eventually you will be happier, and can make the world a better place. But that's small fries. What we need now is something to give the people of the world hope. And nothing gives people hope like seeing what the human race can do if it puts it's mind to it. And I'm not talking nuclear bombs or devastating wars here. I'm talking about the true spirit of human ingenuity. I'm talking about space, to which we've often aspired and can finally reach, and into which we should head as fast as we can.

But wait, you say. This is a depression after all. We can't afford to go to, say, Mars. Well, I say, what we can't afford is not to go to Mars. Life is to precious to be trapped to one planet, one planet that we're slowly destroying.

But if hope and idealism aren't enough for you, think of the economic motivations: think of all the industry the space race created. Think of all the jobs. Think of all the technology that was invented and went into bettering our lives.Think of all the hope and inspiration it gave people. In the entertainment industry alone, the space race inspired at least two major franchises at the time it was the strongest - Doctor Who and Star Trek. These franchises have gone on to generate billions of dollars worldwide and continue to inspire people worldwide.

While industry may in the end be the largest motivator of a second space race, I give you this aside: Star Trek, particularly TOS, has always been the bastion of a future utopia, wherein humanity has managed to better itself, overcome war and poverty (and religion) and continues to strive to better itself. But rebooted, to continue to hold the public's interest, it has been remade as dark, in some degree sinister, filled with power-mad, war-mongering admirals and blood-fueds and all the rest. Granted, I love AOS and think to some degree it is more realistic, but when even Star Trek fails to cling to future utopias, you know that people just don't believe that they can exist anymore.

And this is why we need another space race: so people can hope again. Right now, people generally seem to think that the human race will destroy ourselves before we go any further. (We may be the first civilization in the history of the Earth to forecast our doom rather than our eternal glory.) Right now, there is nothing to believe in. There is no hope that things will get better, no belief that humanity can manage to overcome it's baser instincts. It is war and death and chaos and pain and suffering and superviruses and middle-schoolers taking guns to school and homophobia and religion run rampant and the stock market and consumerism and polo starting anew and car bombings and suicide bombings and global warming and global catastrophe. People think zombie apocalypses are more likely than any sort of progress towards a better world.

People have nothing to believe in anymore. But give us hope, and I swear, there is nothing we will not be able to do.

I leave you with one last quote (from The Hunger Games movie):

 Hope. It is the only thing stronger than fear.

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Hear hear! This was a great post, and I wish I had something equally thoughtful to leave as a comment.

But this is why I want to write good stories, happy stories, and even those mushy stories, to leave something nice into this world, to give hope in my little way.

And though things may seem royally fucked sometimes, I still have hope for humanity. Because I know there are people like you around ^_^