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A Higher, Nobler Cause for Man


Gordon Rowlinson

About 20 years ago, my wanderings lead me to Texas where I saw something extraordinary and inspirational. I took a day out and visited the Johnson Space Center, which is south of Houston. It's still there and I highly recommend this Center to anyone, young or old, space fan or not. It is a museum of the old space programs including an LEM mock up, the Mercury Redstone rocket and moon rocks. However the greatest attraction is outside the Center. Lying on its side, in all its glory is a complete Apollo moon rocket. Unless one has seen this huge monstrosity, you really cannot appreciate the gigantic size. This humongous relic from the past is a silent testimony of an inspirational event in history and a monument to our country’s greatness. Putting a man on the moon is the greatest human achievement I’ll ever live to see. I stood for the longest time looking at the massive booster engines and I was inspired to think idealistic thoughts.

I thought of what President Dwight Eisenhower said of military spending: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. This is not a way of life at all in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”

I started thinking how wonderful it would be if all the countries in the world would stop building high tech killing machines such as Trident submarines, ICBMs, and B1 bombers. I thought how wonderful it would be if we stopped wasting the genius of our scientists on high tech weapons that destroy and hired all the world's brilliant scientists to design high tech space vehicles and focus on space exploration. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we concentrated our resources on nobler purposes other than war and killing each other? We’d be to Pluto in no time! The briefest moment passed and I realized my foolish thoughts of such a utopian, peaceful world were a mere idealistic dream. We are a somewhat violent species and many times hostile to others. This is not a political site, but I recognize that building expensive weapons with a defense budget that puts a high drag on our economy is a necessity. Given how dangerous our world is, if we did not spend a portion of our national budget on defense, our country would fall into the war abyss.

Psychologist Conrad Lorenz noted that predatory animals that can kill easily, have an inner instinct not to kill their own kind. Wolves, rattlesnakes, lions, etc. do not kill their own species. Human beings do not have natural predatory weapons such as teeth and claws and cannot kill easily. Therefore we do not have an inner instinct that prevents us from killing our own kind. Unfortunately we have found out how to construct more and more efficient ways to kill each other such as guns, rocket propelled grenades and Stealth Bombers. It would be fortunate if our weapons were limited to clubs. A war with clubs would keep the casualty count low.

As we do not have an inner instinct to stop us murdering our own, we must use our brains. The prophet Moses gave us the commandment “Thou shall not kill.” Jesus said “Blessed be the merciful for they shall obtain mercy” and taught us to love our enemies. This is SciFi site not a site about religion. But reaching inward to thoughts of tolerance and humanity is a step in the right direction. We are now out of the Christmas season where for a brief moment in the year we thought of peace on earth and good will to men. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we were somehow able to stop all war and have peace on earth and good will to men all year round?

There is hope for the future. During the cold war, both the United States and the USSR realized that a war, nuclear or conventional, would be devastating. As both sides realized the futility of a costly war, a standoff ensued. Now we are friends with these people and join them on space missions. This cooperation between the two former rivals provides a hopeful sign that we can focus on higher and nobler causes and create a better world in the future. When we, the entire human race, use our heads we can move on to serve a higher and nobler cause and reach higher-past the heavens and into the realms of space exploration.

2012-02-29 08:02:44
The only thing that stands between man and the damage he can do is his sense of a higher self. In short, man's sense of humanity is what stands between him and inhumanity, and even then it isn't always a win. Agreed, one could argue in favor of the religious impulse and spiritual laws of the many religions but the fact there are spiritual laws against personal violence but not against war ought to tell us something. And then we hear about the wrath of God, in whose image we presumably were made. It's in our DNA, but we hope not in indelibly in our soul. Still, the earliest recorded crimes and sins are thefts and murders and wars. It ain't going away soon. So the best we can hope for is a determined vigilence for peace and as we hope for better it will be more possible the more we support the peace processes, humanitarian causes and aid, and volunteering in our communities. "The crap stops here". We may not be able to fix what causes it all, but we can definitely limit the effects. Violence is one of those things that doesn't have to burn down our collective house, provided enough people are in the bucket brigade. We can minimize the damage in other words.

2012-02-03 08:29:22
When New Orleans was flooded I noticed that we could have rebuilt it if we would have had access to the military's budget for the War in Iraq that year. War is useless and costly. Unfortunately, defenses against it is a necessity, and can't be avoided. Greece was overtaken by Rome, Native Americans run over by the European's weapons and their germs.

2012-02-01 09:20:24
I agree with your sentiment. Lorenz's stament was based on a warm fuzzy and not actual observation. One need only read the works of naturalists such as Jane Goodall and others to know that that naive belief is patently untrue. Even different groups of ants war and kill each other.

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