Do Americans want to build the future anymore?

(Saturn 5 liftoff courtesy NASA)

I’ve read some excerpts and discussions of Newt Gingrich’s speech about settling the Moon and allowing the colony(s) to become States of the United States. He’s gotten a lot of flack from all sides on that, a disturbing amount coming from the conservative blogosphere. It’s like so many Americans don’t want to think about a future that might involve doing something we haven’t done before, because “it’s too crazy” or “too dangerous” or “too expensive.”

After reading a lot of “conservative” commentary on many blogs, it’s just depressing to hear coming from them the same Leftist phrases I heard in the 70’s dismissing the space program, mainly “it’s too costly in money and lives” to go into space, “we need to solve the problems here on Earth, first.” We used to dream big, and we used to “do big,” often just to spite the naysayers and doom mongers who said something couldn’t be done.

Our ancestors carved a continent-wide Republic out of nothing, laid thousands of miles and kilotons of steel in bridges, railroads, buildings, dams. Twice they fought and destroyed the forces of totalitarians, against whom it was “too dangerous” and “too risky” to try to even fight, much less beat down. They and we even dared to dream of expanding our frontier into that great black Unknown above our heads, and the men and women of that Great Generation that defeated the Axis powers actually pulled it off, actually putting people on another world! For some of us that watched it as children then, it was amazing, thrilling, it made us think that we could dream and do big things like that, too!

But somehow we let the bureaucrats and politicians and naysayers take over the dreams, a host of “Grima Wormtongues” whispering soft words of “take it easy”, “don’t rock the boat”, “play it safe”, weakening us like Theoden in “Lord of the Rings”, making our society old before its time. I hope we can wake up as a culture, start to dream and do big again, but I’m afraid the “sensible” voices are too loud to hear above. SpaceX and Bigelow and the others might be able to prove the “too expensive” and “too crazy” voices wrong and start to build their own infrastructures out there, unless the FAA/NASA/EPA/DHS/NLRB bureaucrats suck the life out of the infant industries in their cradles.

It’s possible that it may be left to countries that are young and energetic and hopeful, like India or Brazil, to take up the flag of frontier building, of facing and facing down the future. They’re likely more motivated than we are, anyway. We have more important things to do, like catch up on “Jersey Shore” and update our Facebook pages.

(expanded from a comment on the Evil Blogger Lady’s website

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