I Want the Moon Back

I’ve been re-watching the 1998 HBO series ‘From the Earth to the Moon’, and it got me thinking.Moon

We went to the moon. Can you get your head around that? We, collectively, as a species, went to the moon. That moon, the one way up there – we went to it. We went right around the other side. We trod on its dusty surface. We picked up rocks. We measured stuff. WE DROVE A FREAKIN’ DUNE BUGGY ALL OVER THE PLACE!

We went to the moon.

Yes, we all know that, but I’m not sure if we appreciate it, or appreciate it enough. What an effort. What an achievement. What a batty, glorious, arrogant thing it was even to conceive of. ‘Okay, the moon. Let’s go there to see what it’s like.’ It’s one of the great things about humanity, this ability to undertake something vast, futile and poetic, just because.

We did it, and then we stopped. We haven’t been back since 1972.

I know, I know. It was expensive. It could have been done by robots. It was pointless and there’s so many better things to do down here. Maybe. I’m not going to argue that if we didn’t spend so much on wars and other stupid stuff we could be holidaying on the Sea of Tranquillity right now (even though I just did argue it), but I am going to say how sad it is that we aren’t. If there ever was a species wide failure of imagination or commitment or confidence, it’s the fact that we stopped going to the moon. We could have said, ‘Let’s do everything else, but let’s keep going to the moon.’ Instead, we withdrew, turned back on ourselves and forgot about the high frontier.Aldrin_Apollo_11 small

I, for one, would like to see us out there again. I’d like us to be doing stuff that pushes us to the boundaries of experience, things that enlarge us as human beings. Yes, we’re doing amazing, magnificent, incredible things in biology, medicine and Large Hadron Colliders, but I’m greedy and I want more.

I want the moon back.