Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Once Upon A Time

Erik Loomis sounds an awful lot like me.
I wonder if any such image in our media-saturated uberironic brains could make any such impact today. Or would we just tell a joke and write it off as ironic in some vague and poorly defined way.
What image would that be?  Well, really, there are two images.  First, the newer one:
 See that tiny dot just to the right of center of the screen?  That's the planet Venus seen through the rings of Saturn, courtesy of the Cassini spacecraft.

The second, earlier image is more famous.
As Apollo 8 orbited the Moon at Christmastime, 1968, and the three astronauts read the first creation story from the book of Genesis, this image appeared on television screens across the world.  Our home.  It's really not that far away, a quarter-million miles.  Yet even from that small distance, there's something so fragile about that image.  Our home planet, as enormous as it seems from our homes and roads and even skies, is a delicate jewel.

That was our first real exposure to what our planet really is.  Those three men, further from their home than any human beings had ever been, were seeing things from a perspective that no one had ever had.  Sharing that perspective with the rest of humanity, it awakened feelings of fear and love, and most certainly wonder, among millions.

Once upon a time, we Americans were inspired to do good and great things.  Once upon a time, we Americans refused to let any obstacle interfere with the expressed wish to accomplish any goal.  Now, our politics is held hostage by Vandals, barbarians of our own making, who would rather watch it all come down than accede to the belief of the majority of the country that there are things we can only do together, and that we do better together.

Once upon a time, we saw images such as these, and we embraced the fear and wonder they engendered and said, "Yes.  We can do this."  Now, we look at our broken roads, our crumbling sewer systems, even our federal system of mail delivery that continues to be the envy of the world, and because a few people insist there is nothing that can be done, nothing is done.

Once upon a time, America was a great place.  That this occurred in my lifetime saddens me no end.  I do so hope some other nation picks up the challenges represented by these photographs and does something about them, because I do believe our fairy tale is over.

The ending, alas, was not at all happy.

Virtual Tin Cup

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