We visited the Kennedy Space Center on April 10, 2014, primarily to see a rocket launch, something we had not witnessed in person previously and it certainly lived up to our expectations. It was a beautiful day and the several thousand people gathered on the shoreline were all waiting patiently for the scheduled 1:45 PM launch. It went off as scheduled to the thrill of everyone, many from other countries as we talked with people from Germany, Switzerland and France all of whom were sitting nearby.
Seeing and feeling a launch in person is quite different from all the films viewed over the years and while this Atlas rocket was not as big as the Saturn V or some of the others that carried people on the shuttle into orbit, it was big enough to get an impression of the past 50 years of the space program. This experience, along with all the films and documented history at the Center added a dimension to our understanding and appreciation of the international space station’s operation.
As we watched the Russian and American space engineers work closely together and celebrate their success, along with people from 16 other countries who had been involved, the view of earth from space with no boundaries between countries drove home the silliness of so many of our political follies. As the United States increased sanctions against Russia and felt justified in doing so, both then and now, it just seems so senseless that we can’t find more effective ways to cooperate in significant earthbound programs.
I was taken back to my definition of a paradox, a word that is most often defined as “an apparent contradiction”, and it is all of that and more. Paradox, translated literally, means “that which is contrary to public opinion.” Will the public ever have a sufficient and strong enough opinion to tell leaders to stop trying to solve problems through the exercise of power? Will we ever try instead, like the space program, to share a common vision, a common purpose and a common goal?
We have proof that we can work together for the common good. Why not use that hard evidence and translate it to earthbound problems? Perhaps it’s too obvious or that we continue not to learn from the mistakes of the past or that there aren’t enough people who care to weigh in and make the difference. Maybe it’s just a case of head in the sand one more time. Or maybe its about people who do not want to look at the past in terms of what works and what doesn’t. “Those who do not learn from the mistakes of the past are condemned to repeat them.” George Santyana What about learning from the success of the past and not worry about who gets the credit? What about that, Mr. President?