THE BLOG

The Red the Gold and the Gutter -- Space Exploration, the Olympics and Politics

08/03/2012 12:30 pm ET | Updated Oct 03, 2012
  • Rick Tumlinson Founder - New Worlds Institute, EarthLight Foundation, Co-Founder, Deep Space Industries, Space Frontier Foundation, Orbital Outfitters Inc.

In a couple of days, as the world holds its breath, the Curiosity rover will attempt to touch wheels on Mars. After a marathon covering 154 million miles, a final flaming sprint and a spectacular entry, it will hopefully hit its mark, and as it trundles off into the Martian desert score another win for science -- and a victory for what is good about humanity.

Arriving as it will on the heels of the Olympics, Curiosity will continue the flow of the right kind of good news we have been witnessing from London to the people of Earth. The mission represents the type of news we want to hear and see, the type of news that inspires us, the type of news we need to affirm why we are here on this rock at all, wherein the facing down of insurmountable challenges, the overcoming of odds and the achievement of something pure, right and important are the prime motivators, rather than money, power and politics.

These two events stand in stark contrast with ongoing deluge of sewage dumped into the American psyche each day by our so-called leaders in what one might call a political season, if it had not now become a year round, every year, all the time 24/7/365 fist fight and fiasco of failure.

On the one hand we see humanity and human beings striving for all things good and pure, rising above their relegated realities to reach for something beyond themselves, where the team triumphs and the glory of one is shared by the effort of all. On the other the most base and banal aspects of a bestial craving for control and wealth at all costs, where all is sacrificed for the one and the glory goes to none.

Yes, winning and losing matter. The Gold and the goal are of paramount importance, and crossing the finish line or nailing the landing are the reason we do these things. Yes, the individual triumph is important, be it winning the race or finding the missing link of life on another world, but there is a class to these endeavors, a sense of honor and all share in the winning of the one. And yes, we sometimes lose. But even if we fail, if we stumble and fall, if the thrusters misfire and the mission crashes, we have done these things for the right reasons, and we can get back up, dust ourselves off and do them again. In fact we Will get back up, we Will dust ourselves off and we Will try again -- no matter what.

As far as I am concerned the whiners of Wall Street and the political pundits, power players and the swarms of sycophantic sound bite spewing sewage rats that surround them can stuff it. They are the wrong stuff, and their self-glorification is an obscenity. No matter what they say of themselves, they are not that important. They lead us nowhere but down, they offer nothing but taking, and give back to us only the reminder of how we should not be as human beings. Were it not such an insult to the Solar System, I would offer them all a one way ride to the Red Planet, where they could be a litmus test for the existence of life by setting the standard of what life is not.

Life is an affirmation, not a defamation. Life means living. Life means taking that one tiny or giant leap beyond what you know you can do, or simply beyond what you know. It is in these moments that we live. It is in the failures of our striving that we find ourselves and it is then, in the rising above them and trying again that we carry ourselves to the next level. If the runner stumbles they get up and run again. If Curiosity fails to make it, we will try again. We do not give up, we do not look down. We always move forward. We will cross the finish line, we will explore and eventually live on Mars. We will rise.

I want to see the Right Stuff rising out of all of us, I want to see the look in the eyes of that fallen racer as she gets back up and pushes herself beyond what is possible to reach a new level. I want to see the awe in the eyes of a child as they see the image of a new world, be it on the first or hundredth attempt to bring that image home, which will inspire them to reach for their own new levels.

Be it the waters of the Olympic pool or the soft sands of Mars, these events remind us that we the people of Earth can be proud of ourselves, no matter how the losers among us behave. There is in us a spark of something good, something right and beautiful.

Those others may spend their days swimming in the self indulgent sewage they call politics, for my part I will celebrate the greatness of our dreams.

Oscar Wilde put it best: "We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars."