Culture Magazine

To Mars, Because We Can, Really

By Bbenzon @bbenzon
Because right now, we think we can't, build for a future, that is, we're sticking our collective heads in the sand and saying "Oh, noes!"


The Red Planet

Tim Kreider in the NYTimes:
I don’t support going to Mars for practical reasons at all. I think we should plan to go to Mars because it would be a healthy sign that we, as a civilization, are still planning for a future — that we intend to live. Because right now, frankly, we’re not acting as though we do. We’re acting more the way a friend of mine did in the last year of his life: letting the mail pile up unopened, heaping garbage in the house, littering the floor with detritus, no longer bothering to turn over the calendar pages. He’d clearly decided, on some level, to die.
We’re mostly hiding from the horrifying facts mounting ever more unavoidably around us, keeping ourselves zonked out on anything from Xanax to Oxy, immersed in the worlds of Warcraft or Westeros while the actual world is burning. Billionaires are building sumptuous bunkers instead of doing anything that would forestall the deluge or revolution they’re barricading against. Mounting a mission to Mars would be bold and hopeful, a gesture of faith, like planning a vacation to Bali next year when you’re battling cancer.
Ray Bradbury, author of another famous Mars book, called space travel our modern version of cathedral building: a vast, ambitious, multigenerational undertaking, a shared vision to work toward together as a culture. Right now, we don’t have such a vision, or even a culture, for that matter — just a degrading, every-man-for-himself scramble for the last scraps of cash the 1 percent have overlooked, like one of those parking-lot contests where you have to keep your hand on a truck until everyone faints from exhaustion. We could use a worthier project.

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