Saturday, July 4, 2009

Hoo-Ray For The Red, White, and Blue


Fireworks I can believe in. (Photo: NASA / Hubble)

While I like being an American, I've always had a wish that someday, we could consider ourselves citizens of -- well, something larger. Really a lot larger.

Unfortunately, we'd first have to stop arguing, demonizing and killing each other long enough to deal with real threats to our entire species -- Global Warming, or possibly dormant Supervolcanoes; and then pandemic disease; changes in animal or insect behavior; or big rocks from outer space; things like that. Any one of these could spoil the party, for everybody.

And any one of them are reasons to think about cooperating -- in order to move humankind off the planet. Because as a species, if we don't, at some point the music will stop and there may not be a chair left. Because, as Robert A. Heinlein was quoted as saying in the early 1960's, Earth is just too small and fragile a basket for the human race to keep all its eggs in.

A permanent Moon base is something the Chinese would like to establish -- and as a result, the Russians, and even the U.S. are now committing budgets for Lunar 'research' (tough to do when your economy's been wrecked by a crew of Oligarchical greedhead Masters of Finance, huh?). Mining the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, or terraforming Mars itself aren't the ridiculous notions they used to be. Even the idea of traveling to colonize potential Earthlike planets in the 'local neighborhood' isn't as utterly crazy as it once was.

All it takes is the perspective, the desire, and the committment. But, for most Americans on this specific day, we care about things that are right in front of us: Children, family; Teevee football; corn on the cob, and hot dogs and beer. And, of course, fireworks after dark.

They're all good things. It would be nice, though, if sometimes we could look a little higher and see a little farther.