All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.  

By Blaney Pridgen

A couple decides to see a movie.  They make a reservation and are leaving the house to go.  As they get into the car, they notice black smoke seeping out of an eave of their house.  It’s not a lot of smoke, but, gee, it gets their attention.  But they really want to see this movie.  It’s the latest futuristic space movie, like Star Wars or Star Trek.  They really love that genre, so they decide to go anyway.  Perhaps the smoking will go away by the time they get back.  Not too smart, huh?  This absurd story might suggest our renewing interest in space exploration, returning to the moon and expeditions to Mars.  In our nation and others, smoke is coming out of the eaves.  A lot of public and private money is being spent on training, research, planning, materials, and hours of work.  We are going to outer space, while our inner space under the stars is in trouble.  All this space stuff seems like the movies to me.  Just consider what might be done with that money and resources spent elsewhere.

Consider public education.  Teachers should be better paid.  Higher education should be much more affordable.  Consider law enforcement.  We desperately need better trained and paid police and law enforcement needs social workers and crisis counselors as part of the team.  We need prison reform.  Consider our overloaded court systems.  Consider all of our healthcare systems.  We need more of everything there, with the exception of Big Corrupt Pharma, hospital corporations constantly merging and marketing solely for profit, and the medical insurance cartels.  Consider the infrastructure…roads, bridges, mass transit, the electrical grid, and even our national parks.  Consider humane border management and immigration reform.  And speaking of reform, how might we politically invest in better elections?  What’s it going to take to rid ourselves of unlimited terms, the filibuster, gerrymandering, unequal representation in the senate, and the electoral college?  I don’t care what’s on Mars.  I do care about these things, which merit our money, interest, and energy.  And I suspect you can add to my considerations.  

Well, perhaps something is going on with this space business of which I am ignorant.  Maybe we need to appear better than the other nations who want space travel and we want them to waste their resources too in keeping up with us.  Perhaps this has something to do with spying and replacing worn out communication satellites.  Maybe some filthy rich people are getting filthier.  Imagine that.  Maybe we’re eavesdropping on aliens.  Who knows?  

Yet, I remember a little boy in a toy space suit and helmet.  He had a picture book about the future of space travel.  He had a cardboard spaceship.  Playing space was more fun than cowboys and Indians or war.  He was a bit of a nerd about what might be beyond.  Later, as a young man, he was thrilled for awhile by the adventures of NASA.  This seemed to him the absolutely only thing his nation got right.  Everything else was war, corporate greed, assassinations, racism, and clown car politicians.  He grew out of that and grew out of space travel as he honed his dreams in other inner space directions.  But, just maybe, outer space posed a kind of salvation, and a salvation we as a nation may still need.  It’s the salvation of a promise and a dream which feels something like hope beyond the crassness of cruel little minds conjuring a past that never really existed.  Maybe we need a rocket ship, but there’s smoke in the eaves.