Tuesday, January 20, 2009

If it's Tuesday, this must be Florida

Steve:

We're in Cocoa Beach, Florida this morning, in preparation for speaking at the Space Coast Writer's conference later this week. (You're going to have to forgive my typing. I'm used to the ergonomic keyboard on my home machine, and the quirks on this rusty old laptop I'm using make it worse) We flew out early with the intention of spending the time at Cape Kennedy. So what are we doing today? Well, so far, we're sitting here in the hotel (A historic hotel once frequented by space-race astronauts) watching the wind-up to the inauguration.

I've wanted all my life to make it down here and see where humans first launched for the Moon. But it's hard to choose between an indirect once-in-a-lifetime event, and something that could turn out to be a direct once-in-a-lifetime event. But there's always tomorrow for the Space Center, or this afternoon for this matter, so I'm not counting on leaving the TV any time soon.

There's such a sense of history now, and such an energy. In one day, we literally have traveled from sea to shining sea, laving our home on the Oregon Pacific coast, and arriving at our hotel here on the Atlantic. Traveling easy from Oregon through Chicago, we saw people in the airports wearing their Obama sweatshirts and hats, probably headed for Washington. After all the years of bitter division in this country, and all the gloom and doom that's been in the news recently, it's so good to see the country largely unified and hopeful.

The talking heads on TV are all busy warning that it's all temporary, that come tomorrow, it will all evaporate like a dream. Certainly the problems we face will still be there, and none of them have easy or quick solutions.

But let us have our moment. There is power in unity; unity that is inspired, and not enforced. I'd like to to dream that it could last long enough to help us tackle some of those problems, the immediate ones of the economy and energy, if nothing else. I like that idea.

Stop bursting my bubble. Away, talking heads!

It would be great to be in Washington today, of course, but I somehow feel better being here, so close to the origin of one of our greatest national accomplishments. I still believe in America, and that it can do great things. Our best days are behind us, only if we let them be.

I think we're at a transitive period in human history, one in which in order to survive as a species, we're going to have to step up as stewards of our own destiny, and of our world. Global warming has brought home something that should have been obvious long ago. There is no place on Earth, no species, no place, safe from the hand of humankind. There is no country, no person, isolated from any other.

Global problems demand global solutions.

Maybe even bigger than global. We need to understand and manage our planet in a way never before conceived. The neo-cons are going to say that there's no way in our divided world that such a thing is possible, or in many ways, even desirable. And they'd be right. The tree-huggers are going to say that we're not nearly wise or morally developed enough to take on such a task, even if we could. They also would be right.

Building the great Pyramids was impossible. Crossing large stretches of the Pacific in canoes to settle distant island was impossible. Building the glory that was Rome was impossible. Going to the Moon was impossible.

The history of humanity is one of reaching and falling and reaching again. We can do great things, impossible things. It's part of what we are. It's in our blood. It's in our genes.

It's time to think big again. To study the planets in order to better tend our own. It's time to stand up to our big problems, recognize that they're bigger than we are, and learn to make ourselves worthy of them.

It's a battle that could start with a president, with a moment of national unity, but like cathedrals, it's the work of generations.

Let it begin.

Today would be a good day to start.

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