I freely admit to my space-geekiness, a passion nurtured in childhood which ultimately culminated in an internship at NASA headquarters when I was at American University in the early 1990s.
Sadly, a career with the space agency was not to be, but I never lost my wonder for the stars, riding the rollercoaster of manned flight through the last 30 years, from the loss of Columbia to our heroic return to space from that dark day to the end of the shuttle program and the wilderness since.
But, Saturday was the first time in a long time that I had NASA TV on the big screen, watching each and every moment of preparation before that Falcon 9 rocket leapt from the pad and SpaceX ushered in a new era of space flight for this country.
While watching the launch, keeping in mind events happening around the country at the same time, I couldn’t help but feel like we’ve been in this place before — and I’m not the only one. Several people in my circle pointed out the similarities — racially-fueled riots, a health scare and launching rockets into space – have we entered into some kind of time warp back to the late 1960s?
That’s a bitter pill to swallow — it has been over 50 years — have we really made so little progress as a society?
I’ve spent a good portion of my life writing columns that touch on politics and culture. “Six Sense” was meant to be a departure from that, a place for me to ramble on and provide a bit of a (hopefully) humorous distraction from all the negativity that fills or feeds and our lives, but 2020 is doing its best to make that difficult.
The simple fact is, while the nation burns, while people are dying because of brutality or the color of their skin, while businesses go bust because they have been shut down for months and people lose their homes because they have lost their jobs and can’t pay the rent, it somehow doesn’t seem right to write about wacky flavors of ice cream.
No matter where you get your ethics — whether it be a sermon or a philosophy book, what happened George Floyd should not have happened. There is no excuse for keeping the pressure on that long. No excuse for standing idly by after he went unresponsive. What happened to Ahmaud Arbery should not have happened. Nobody “deserves it.” Nobody “has it coming.”
The inevitable rioting, burning and destruction that follows should not happen either. Yes, people are angry. We can acknowledge that, we can accept that, but we cannot excuse that behavior. Peaceful protests? Certainly. More innocent lives destroyed? Never. They no more earned that outcome than the victims of the heinous moments earned their fate.
There is so much anger out there. All of it egged on by those who profit most from throwing gasoline on a fire, who profit the most by keeping us divided.
- Anger: People cooped up in their homes.
- Anger: People strapping guns on their backs and storming state capitals.
- Anger: People torching police cars, smashing windows and looting businesses.
This country is supposed to be about freedom of opportunity for everyone, no matter their race, gender or religion. It is up to our laws, our Constitution, to protect that. Children draw lines in the sand, blame others and throw their toys out of the pram. Adults take a good hard look in the mirror, see what is broken, and get busy fixing it.
Angry can’t be the sum total of who we are. We must be better than that, otherwise, what is the point of this grand American experiment?
What is the point of reaching for the stars if we can’t fix the problems we have right here in our own back yards?