here is a Twitter account called @apollo_50th that is “live” tweeting Apollo spacecraft missions as they happened 50 years ago. They’ve already been through the moon landing, and now are just finishing up the Apollo 13 potential disaster and Apollo 14 mission. The account details some of the most amazing pieces of engineering and human bravery in the history of the world. That humanity could send men 239,000 miles away in something the size of a Hyundai Sonata continues to amaze and inspire to this day.
But the NASA missions of the 1960’s and 70’s were also fraught with problems. Women and minorities were woefully under-represented. The “jock” attitudes of the astronauts are only now coming to light. The managerial style of NASA top brass was arrogant and eventually got astronauts killed due to negligence.
Humanity isn’t perfect–even when it’s being smart. Jump ahead 50 years. We have computers in our pockets that are seven million times more powerful than the guidance computer on the Apollo capsule. We use it to take pictures of our butts and post them to Instagram. Or, worse, yell at kids that a mass shooting was fake on social media.
This isn’t limited to just America, of course. There’s smart and dumb everywhere. But we do seem to be leading the league in the juxtaposition of the two. In the same day, Americans can set up a treatment center designed to vaccinate thousands of people — a vaccination that was created in mere months after previous vaccinations took years – only to have that treatment center shut down by protesters who think that vaccination will fill their bodies with nanoprobes sent from the government to track their movements.
America is proving itself to be the fun uncle that you’d never let watch your kids overnight. Not necessarily because you’re afraid he’d do something to the kids, but more because you’re pretty sure he will fall asleep smoking a cigar and light the house on fire.
This is where we are in 2021. America is kind of smart and kind of dumb. There isn’t enough ink for the examples to list. You see them every day. We hire a popular television celebrity to run our country and he tries to burn down the other branch of government. We build a system of financial wealth unparalleled by mankind and those folks get upset when poor people figure out a way to get a little bit of wealth, too. (I’m looking at you, GameStop.)
This is where we are in 2021. Unparalleled technology. Unprecedented wealth. Unimaginable success. And in the same breath, a man with a HOMELESS VET sign stands in the cold rain at North Oak and Vivion begging for dollar bills. This is the country that has Patrick Mahomes for crying out loud. And yet, he plays a sport where science says it’s quite likely he is giving himself permanent brain damage that won’t show up for years.
We are a work in progress. Obviously, there is more work to do. Apollo missions were only the first step, and someday soon, I hope, we will be walking on Mars. Humanity occasionally just takes a couple of idiotic detours. Like when you’re on vacation and you know you shouldn’t stop at the “Worlds Largest Outhouse” but there you are, snapping a selfie in front of a 30 foot high commode.
Humanity can overcome tragedy. It can overcome obstacles. It can overcome weakness. Eventually, humanity will also overcome the stupidity of humanity. In the meantime, just don’t fall asleep with anything flammable in your hand.
(Find more Chris Kamler observations on Twitter where he is @TheFakeNed)