What Landing On Mars Again Can Teach Us, Again

from the humanity-pep-talk dept

It seems I’m always writing about Section 230 or copyright or some sort of regulatory effort driven by antipathy toward technology. But one of my favorite posts I’ve ever written here is this one, “We Interrupt All The Hating On Technology To Remind Everyone We Just Landed On Mars.” Given that we just landed on Mars again it seems a good time to revisit it, because it seems no less important today than it was in 2018 when I originally wrote it. Just as it seems no less important that we just landed on Mars again. In fact, it all may matter even more now.

Today we find ourselves even more mired in a world full of technological nihilism. It has become a well-honed reflex: if it involves technology, it must be bad. And in the wake of this prevailing distrust we’ve developed a political culture that is, at best, indifferent to innovation if not often downright eager to stamp it out.

It’s a poisonous attitude that threatens to trap us in our currently imperfect world, with no way to solve our way out of our problems. But recognizing what an amazing achievement it was to successfully land on Mars can work as an antidote, in at least two important ways:

First, it can remind us of what wonder feels like. To dream the most fantastic dreams, and then to go make those dreams happen. Mankind hasn’t gazed at the stars in ambivalence; the heavens have been one of our greatest sources of inspiration throughout the ages. That we have now managed, for the first time in the history of human civilization, to put another planet within our grasp should not extinguish that wonder, with a glib “been there, done that” shrug. Rather, it is a cause for enormous celebration and should do nothing but inspire us to keep dreaming, next time even bigger.

Because if there’s one thing this landing teaches us, apart from the tangible fruits of our exploration, it is to believe in ourselves. Our failures and disappointments here on Earth are serious indeed. But what this success demonstrates is that we can overcome what was once thought impossible. It may take diligence, hard work, and faithful adherence to science. And our human imperfections can sometimes make it hard to manage these things.

But landing on Mars reminds us that we can and provides us with an amazing example of how.

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Comments on “What Landing On Mars Again Can Teach Us, Again”

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K`Tetch (profile) says:

Too True

This video hits me squarely in the feels.
20-odd years ago, I was all set that this video would have been shot by a craft carrying me, landing on Mars. Long before I started dealing with bittorrent, or randomly ranting on this or making experimental glitch timelapses, I wanted to go to Mars. Hence Robotics degree, astrophysics degree, associates in Maths, and chemistry, and nuclear physics.

The last few years, depression has hit me hard, but after I watched that video, it gave me renewed purpose, to do what I can to push whatever I can in the name of progress, so that one way or another, before I die, I will set foot on Mars. And I don’t care how it comes to me, if it’s by advancing space policy so it happens by the time I’m 60 (I’m now 40), or by pushing medical science so that I’m still a viable and sprightly 120.

This speaks to what many have lost, their wonder, their desire for adventure, just in the pursuit of becoming the rich master of their own very tiny pond.

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