Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Coming Frontier

Or at least, I hope. 

I think it's pretty clear by now that I am a huge fan of science fiction and an all-around, star trek loving, literary nerd. When I was very young, perhaps three or four, I decided that I would be a doctor, modeling myself after the brilliantly red headed Dr. Crusher who could cure all ills and erase all pain with a hypospray and hot eyes.  My parents then told me that being a doctor meant far too many years of education and internships, at which point I decided that I would wait to enter the medical profession until at least the 23rd century. No poverty, no hunger, no chemotherapy, just a universe so wonderful and magical as to make small the fears of 1990. 

I thought about this dialogue and my childhood fantasies recently, when I found myself discussing space flight in the lunch room at work. I'm afraid I revealed quite a bit of myself in the conversation, seeing that I championed the importance of exploration and wonder in modern times. I was, seemingly, the one man band for NASA, space tourism, and fresh faced optimism. I felt a bit foolish, after, but no more wrong.

Space, a vacuum full of cold anticipation and neutral emptiness, still calls to us despite the fact that its reality is limited by what is politically powerful and financially reasonable. It seems incredibly limited to me, however, that we find ourselves unable to journey out into the only unknown because it isn't popular or cheap. I understand, of course, that there are a great many problems on earth which need to be addressed, and that it seems imprudent to consider millions of dollars into the black when we need millions of dollars to fix what we seem so capable of screwing up - our lives, our government, and our rights. But the dreams live in me; somehow I feel that if we could just face the void with good cheer and determination we could figure out what Gene Roddenberry told us. Humanity is far too valuable.  We can't live without passion. And we can't live without that final frontier, without something to bind us, without cause for sharing and listening and taking care of the needs of the people. The end of war, the death of destitution, with the mechanical magic of engines and a pact to guide us happily into the dark. 

I think what I want is still that spirit of exploration, no limits other than the true values of all people - respect, purpose, and peace. 

I may be incredibly naive, but I make no apologies. Gene raised me, in some ways, and the open hope of the 1990s made me willing to accept things that might be impossible. I still think that space travel is possible, but it has come to mean so much more than warp drive and replicators. Space travel means an earth that can get over petty disputes and self-termination. Space travel means that there is a time when we, like Dr. Crusher, can find a way to heal. 

We must mend the parts of ourselves which are broken. We must look out into the night. If we don't, we will have missed out on so much of who we are. I don't care who you are, what political party, what religion, what level of apathy. I think, in all of us, there might be some little voice that cries out - make something new, and value that thing deep and secret which says, I am not merely the culmination of what has come before. 

 I am hope. 

 I am faith, incarnate.  

And I am the explorer, the lover, the wonderer, and the keeper of all joys. 

I will look out and find myself to be stretching, sanctified, human, and above all things, full of terrible and terrifying desire. 

I will hold the stars in my hands. 

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