Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The View from the Moon

Earthrise (taken from Apollo 11)

Where was I forty years ago today?

I was at an outdoor assembly at my North Shore, Auckland, secondary school, listening to the lunar landing broadcast on a PA system rigged up to the side of the School Hall.

I saw the TV images later, but I was "there" for the moment, to hear "The Eagle has landed".

It was one very big deal, and a moment I'm very glad to have been conscious of.

For me then, as an idealistic teenager, and now, as a baby boomer, still more Pollyanna than jaded, it wasn't about America, nor was it about capitalism, nor was it about the male of the species as opposed to humanity as a whole.

Sure all that stuff is bound up in the space race and in the definition of that achievement as a giant leap for a sexist generic noun.

But what it was really about for me was progress, optimism, hope. We really can reach out and do new things, and do them socially as well as scientifically.

And look what has been achieved by us all since then, in terms of the change in the relative status of women, almost everywhere... And in so many other areas of life. because we believed that if we worked for change and growth, and a better world, we could do it.

And look what has been destroyed through our efforts and greed to exploit new technologies for profit without thinking it all through.

Sometimes I feel like I'm an alien from some foreign place, when I see what the human species has been doing on this planet. (The world financial system and its bizarre fictional underpinnings moves me especially to this feeling of not belonging here.)

We're shitting in our own nest and nobody seems to have the will or the means to fix it.

Fortunately, once we've completely wrecked this habitat, we have a new place we can move to.

But not if you believe the talkback radio conspiracy theorists. According to them the whole thing was a hoax. We never landed on the Moon at all.

Well then, all the more room for the rest of us on the great migration to the Lunar Colonies.

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