THE GIANT LEAP

What if we focused the same energies that landed men on the moon on eliminating injustice and violence?

I always think of the moon landing in July. Though I was young, I remember the event very well. I remember sitting on the floor in the living room watching the tv, and the noise of the strange clicks and static that came with the astronauts’ voices as they spoke.

I remember the odd flicker and shift of the visual coming into my living room from so far away. I remember going outside and staring hard up at the moon trying to see the men there.

It was a time of great hope and optimism. We could send a man to the moon! It was just a hop, skip and a jump to sending people to Mars and beyond!  The adventures of Star Trek would be ours!

I remember the conflicts of the 60’s, too. I didn’t understand what it was all about, but I remember the somber tones of the newscasters, the people marching, people carrying signs I couldn’t read, and how tense it sometimes made my parents.

I chose to get pregnant a couple of years after 9-11, and during my pregnancy I wrote a note to my son. I told him of the times of troubles and triumphs in which I was born, and how he, too, was going to be born in times of advances as well as troubles, only instead of space ships and moon rocks, it was the internet and all the world’s knowledge at our fingertips; instead of guns and bombs it was tools of commerce being abused to create terror.

I dreaded telling him about 9-11 when he got older. When I finally did, it was because we were going to New York City and would visit the Twin Towers site. I wanted him to have some context and to hear it first from me – but I did not tell him everything about that day. He was only six after all.

I cried afterward. 

When he was older, someone mentioned flight 93 and he asked about it. I hated seeing the appalled look on his face as I finally told him about the attack on the Pentagon and the brave people on flight 93.

The world watched the moon landing, united in sharing an unparalleled historical event. Today the world watches acts of injustice and violence more closely, with live reports and pictures available in a fraction of the time it took Neil Armstrong’s voice to reach us.

More importantly, millions place atrocities under a microscope so that nothing and no one gets overlooked, and so that terrible acts don’t get swept under a rug.

At those times it is the world’s response to tragedy and injustice that fills me with a sense of hope, as when I saw a human being step onto the surface of a new world. 

If we can focus that great determination and energy that did the impossible and placed a human on the moon to ending horrific acts against innocents, my son can share the hope in the human race that I felt in 1969.  

The Giant Leap