If We Can Put a Man on the Moon…
As a kid, I remember watching in utter amazement those grainy TV images of our astronauts walking around on the Moon. Last week marked the 40th anniversary of the final lunar mission, the culmination of perhaps the greatest single technical achievement mankind has ever accomplished.
When President John F. Kennedy challenged the nation to put a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s, many thought he was crazy. Technologies hadn’t yet been invented to make that dream a reality, and the nation was heading into conflicts at home (the civil rights movement) and abroad (the Vietnam War) that were channeling the nation’s attention. Yet business and political leaders would not quit, and the nation’s greatest minds came together to solve a seemingly impossible challenge.
Has America since lost its way?
As we sit here in the 21st century, our politicians seem intractable in accomplishing anything of substance for which they were elected. They seem prepared to take the nation over a ‘fiscal cliff’ instead of pooling their collective intellect toward solving our country’s deep economic troubles. And that stumbling economy created in part by geniuses on Wall Street who created such complicated financial devices so intricate that they themselves didn’t fully understand, causing the 2008 economic collapse from which we still haven’t recovered.
At the same time, it is predicted that the economies of China and India will surpass that of the U.S. in less than a generation. Not that I begrudge other nation’s doing well, but why can’t our great business and political minds come together to solve our economic woes and compete more effectively around the world… instead of playing politics with the American economy, which a past generation dubbed “The 8th Wonder of the World”.
One of my all-time favorite TV programs is “The West Wing”. In one particular episode, the President has a dinner party with several physicians and medical researchers, and the conversation turns to the subject of treating cancer. The President becomes excited that a Kennedy-like challenge could align the nation’s medical resources against an audacious goal: curing cancer. The President spends much of the episode trying to rally his staff to get behind the plan that would save millions of lives. Yet in the end, he has been beaten down by the realization that politics would never allow his challenge to get off the ground.
I have great respect for those individuals who put themselves out there to run for office and to serve in very difficult times. Yet it is those who elect these officials who are ultimately responsible for their behavior. If voters want something done, call or write your official and let them know how you feel. If you don’t like the results, then vote them out of office the first opportunity you have. Our country deserves better then what we are seeing today.
To paraphrase Shakespeare: the fault, dear citizen, is not in our stars but in ourselves.