I was surprised to learn yesterday that Earth is not the only blue planet in our solar system. Neptune is also blue but more like an opal than a marble. The blue is methane which for snorkeling and pearl diving purposes is not as good as water. A walk in the rain would be painful. But farther out, in other solar systems there are other planets, there must be…. So what and who cares?


A few scientists do, a dozen business people, but that’s about it. The United States doesn’t have a manned space program anymore in large part because the people don’t want it. Our unmanned program limps along, begging money every year as much to keep the lights on as anything else.


Instead of calling North America the “New World” it should have been labeled the “Last World.” No more worlds to conquer, seas to cross…. Too expensive, too dangerous, too cruel.


My ancestors crossed the ocean from England to Australia in the early Nineteenth century, stuck in steerage with about one chance in four of surviving the trip. Others came in the holds of ships, stacked like cargo far below the water line, leaving home with no hope of ever seeing a family face again. My forebears were businessmen and petty criminals looking for a good deal and a second chance, others were indentured or taken captive. And don’t forget the children carried in their bellies and on their backs, some buried on alien soil and then left behind because it had to be that way. Whether they traveled willingly or were coerced into coming to the New World, these were brave men and women who accepted risk and sacrifice as part of life.


Since our space program began roughly fifty years ago, men and women have given their lives because they believed in more New Worlds than this one. We acknowledge their sacrifice by rejecting the dream they risked their lives for. Hell of a tribute.


Today we move through our days with our eyes on the ground or a screen, our hands fingering keyboards and the coins in our pockets, counting them over and over like misers, worried that someone will take what we have.


Meanwhile the sky is full of diamonds we’re scared to reach and risk and sacrifice for.


Dumbbell Nebula

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