Sunday, August 2, 2009

Objective Opportunity

World peace must be based on world plenty.

John Orr
So there you are, are you?
One of the few vivid images from my infancy that I still remember was looking up and seeing an airplane. As I knew nothing about fuels or aerodynamics, it was mysterious.The experience of seeing this large object, which wasn't a bird, gliding along through the air has stuck with me all my life.

As I grew I became very interested in the solar system. I was fascinated by those planets, all different from each other and all having mythical names. I wanted to visit all of them. But there was no such thing as space travel back then. In fact, most people thought it was an impossibility and merely the stuff of science fiction. And yet, in my lifetime, it has gone from an impossibility to a daily event.

Now NASA is discussing a manned trip to Mars, the nearest of those planets. Mars, the Roman god of war, which brings up a point to ponder. One way or another, through discovery or colonization, there is or will be life on other planets. Suppose we discovered another inhabited planer with a totally alien but intelligent civilization. What would we do about it? We could do the stupid thing that humans have been doing for centuries, assume they are hostile and out to destroy us and hence attack them. Wage war. It has been said many times by many great thinkers, presidents, generals and historians, that whenever a nation is waging war in a foreign land they are always claiming to be doing it in defense. The US Department Of Defense was originally called the Department of War.

But look at the history. Some people were assured the Russians were out to destroy us and so we set up a huge expensive defense against that happening. The Russians meanwhile had a similar opinion about the western world and so we had underwater ships sniffing around our borders, spy planes over head and eventually satellites taking pictures of each others armaments. That's still going on.

But then World War III became the Cold War. The Berlin Wall went up and came down again. Khrushchev came to visit. Nixon went to visit, Then the Sputnik flew and the Cold War suddenly became the Space Race which took us to the Moon. And now we, the Russians and the Japanese a real former enemy are all working together in space. I know I have just dashed headlong through a lot of important history, but my point is that we have come to a place of mutual cooperation in an effort which many, including myself, feel is the most important scientific activity for the human race.

Contrarily, some people are of the opinion that we shouldn't be spending so much time and money in outer space but should be concentrating on the problems we have right here on Earth. John Orr is probably right that world peace must be based on world plenty, which says that the biggest problem we have here is lack, lack of peace and lack of plenty. But I could turn that quote around and imply that world plenty must rely on world peace. If nations didn't spend so much time and money on defense, i.e. war, what would be the result? One result, which history shows us is that the enemies of today can become the friends of tomorrow. If we stopped waging war on each other or preparing to, we could cooperate and work together to solve the problem of the lack of plenty. That's a circumstance "devoutly to be wished," a pipe dream, you say, an opium trip, a pie in the sky.

But wait! We have a pie in the sky, in fact we have a lot of them and they come from all around the world. What if one of those pies found intelligent life somewhere? And what if we had learned our lessons well enough to not throw nuclear weapons at it? And what if we avoided the Cold War and went right for a Space Race with it.
One planet in a contest with another in a huge Cosmic Olympics of science, technology and culture. We are competitive type people after all.

There will be peace and plenty in this world when this world is competing with another world instead of with itself.

Vagabond Journeys
Smile, the Universe is watching you.


Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

As they say in Star Trek, "Space, the final frontier." I believe that we will conquer our earthly ills (after much pain and suffering, unfortunately), and then turn our focus outward.

Beth said...

Loved loved loved this entry. I still maintain that NASA is very much a valid and important entity, and that there is much to be learned from space exploration, things that are applicable here and now. Hugs, Beth

salemslot9 said...

there won't be peace
in this earth age

a corgi said...

I like what salemslot said; she is true; there won't be peace until......

how interesting that you can remember seeing a plane in your infancy; what age were you with that memory??

I sometimes wonder if we should be in space, but then my hubby reminds me what they have learned from being in space and what we have from it (TV dinners, etc). I'm not sure if there is life on other planets. If there is, I hope they are getting along a lot better than we are here in on earth and are gentler and kinder to each other. One day we'll know it all.


Selchie said...

Interesting and thought provoking post DB).
about the planes, yes my three year old girls are fascinated by them, they tell me they eat grass(Ithink it's bc they're worried they will eat them!).
As for other planets, there seems to be some evidence that that there is already something on mars, see the Phoebus mission and new track marks on mars,also some suggestion that the reason for this new friendliness is because th powers that be already know there is alien life. But what do I know!...
I agree about the problem of percieved scarcity, and think the space race has little to do with it if you remove the equation of monday.

Great post, thank you,

Have a lovely Sunday,


Big Mark 243 said...

I don't know if we deserve to be able to explore beyond our planet and find out what lies beyond what we know. The War Dept. of the human pysche is one that thinks through being prepared first, investigate second. That is why the national idelogies that you mentioned, we are surprised that they work in a relative harmony.

We saw them as something different, alien to us, and only could envision them as enemies not only to us, but to each other.

Only when we saw how we could possibly profit from better relations, only to our betterment at their expense, have we attempted to improve our nation's relationship with them, business wise or diplomatically.

Still, with our own self interest as the primary motivation. Now, do you mean to tell me that perhaps this asinine selfishness, keeping the 'plenty' in the hands of a few, is what it is going to take to make the jump from a moon landing to interstellar space travel? I think not. I do believe that life on earth (not simply 'life as we know it') will end before mankind improves to the point where the things that he fantasizes about will come to pass.

I don't think it is in man's DNA to make the transition. Too warlike and selfish. We still answer the things we are unfamiliar with, with worry, concern and what is best for us, even if it is at the expense of the new experience.

I don't think that will wash with the people or beings that have moved past all that. Or, it could be that they are superior in THEIR warlike nature, and the best we can hope for is to be their colonized labor or source of their renewable needs.

Interesting entry, indeed!!

Janice said...

My head doesn't feel like wrapping itself around the thought provoking entry, but I love, love, love the contest!

Lisa said...

I can think of a few people I would like to send to Why wait until it is colonized. Seriously though I used to gaze at the skies when I was young, book in hand and try to find all the constellations. I think NASA is important as long as we don't screw up another planet like we have with ours. When we learn to love & nurture earth then we can settle on another. Just my opinion.

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