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looking behind it all

My online friends always seem really diverse, but when it come down to it, they're mostly the same. They have General Opinions about things. Attitudes sway at about the same frequency, events effect all of us in about the same way. Take this weekend for example:

Saturday: A space shuttle was lost! This is so sad...

Sunday: If I hear one more thing about that damn shuttle I am going to throw something, I'm sick of you self-centered Americans ignoring the world when busloads of israeli children are killed and then wanting us to all morn when you hurt yourselves trying to prove how fantastic you are...


I thought a lot about yesterday's events, why they impacted me the way they did, and how we as a society pause longer to consider the loss of some lives.

I was truly sad when those astronauts died yesterday. I am also sad when I think about how many thousands of African children die of AIDS. I'm sad when civilians go out shopping in Isreal and are killed by a suicide bomber.

In all cases, the people should not have died. In all cases, someone probably could have done something, even if we aren't sure what it is. In all cases, human lives have been taken, and that is truly a tragedy. But what for? Was life taken because we were striving for something better? Fighting for something?

Or was it taken simply because we have failed as a human race?

These wars in the middle east, this famine and disease in third world countries... I don't see how it can ever end. No one here, reading this journal entry, is doing everything possible to prevent it. Would you sell your computer to feed the hungry? Would you give up your life in your cushioned shelter to wave flies off a dying child in the desert? Obviously you haven't, and neither have I. Maybe it's what we should do, I'm sure I should give it more consideration than I have.

But the situation seems hopeless.

So we'd rather think about astronauts. They died for science. So that man could be great, see the stars, visit other worlds. We'd rather think about Tiananmen Square. Students died, to be free. These glimpses give us hope... that people are willing to give up everything to improve our race and take us further. That sometimes, the loss of life happens because we try so hard (instead of being taken, because we didn't try hard enough).

I don't know what our race is destined to become, and I don't know what to think. I just feel like, as a scientist, the men and women who were lost yesterday died for my cause... for things I understand. For things I can do something about.

Sorry to sound so melodramatic, but I don't think you can blame me for wanting to feel how I do.


( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 2nd, 2003 06:36 pm (UTC)
no one in their right mind would begrudge you your feelings love.

how can we attempt to find order in a werld where everything tends towards chaos? spose the whole thing about living is navigating that, sadly it looks like as a human race we're not doin so good...

happy thoughts now for all!!!
Feb. 2nd, 2003 06:37 pm (UTC)
Yeah, like cnik said above, the Space Program *is* about saving lives through better technology or making life better.

Many good things come from that program and are later distributed through private industry to the population.

It's even about survival of this planet's inhabitants. This quote struck me most: (thanks to mindwalker)

"There's one thing every scientist on the planet agrees on: whether it happens
in a hundred years, or a thousand years, or a million years, eventually our
sun will grow cold, and go out. When that happens, it won't just take us,
it'll take Marilyn Monroe, and Lao-tsu, Einstein, Maruputo, Buddy Holly,
Aristophanes - all of this. All of this was for nothing, unless we go to the
-- Jeffrey Sinclair, Babylon 5
Feb. 2nd, 2003 06:58 pm (UTC)
A Thought
I think it was Mother Theresa who said, "the ocean is made of drops." Everyone has important work to do, no matter what it is. If there were no janitors, nobody would clean things up. If there were no engineers who would design the planes that deliver the food to other countries? Without Bono, who would raise money for so many worthy causes?

The world needs lots of different people in order to function, and we betray the memory of those left behind by refusing to get on with the work that needs doing. I can understand your plight - trust me, you're not alone right now.
Feb. 2nd, 2003 09:37 pm (UTC)
My sentiments precisely, I think.

We have much to do as a planetfull of people.
Feb. 3rd, 2003 12:44 am (UTC)
looking behind it all
You might sound melodramatic, but I think that is
because we don't really have words that adequately
describe astronauts' bravery. I have worked in the
aircraft industry, buying aircraft parts for the
refurbishment of KC-135 tankers--Air Force planes,
so I worked on a military contract. I can find my
way around an engineering drawing fairly well and
know what Mil Specs and things like heat treating
mean. I can understand the feeling that a tragedy
like this can not possibly happen. But of course
there is really no comparison to the aerospace
industry because the level of experience is very
different. Early aircraft flights were marked by
the same kind of inexperience, and inexperience
with space flight is why astronauts are some of
our true heroes today.
Feb. 3rd, 2003 02:15 am (UTC)
Is there a place for the opinion that people can die and I don't care? Seriously, people die every day and the majority of us dopn't know or care about it. They may not die from some trendy disease or in some spectacular newsworthy manner that can be run into the ground by the media, but they still die. If you're sad because some child starves to death in Africa you have the same obligation to be sad because some thoroughly repugnant bastard dies at 98 from a heart attack. You have to become upset because of every single possible death that occurs even if it is just someone's grandmother in Austria, anything less is hypocrisy. Just try to live your life for yourself and realize that no matter what happens in the world almost none of it is your fault or responsibility.

Then again I just don't give a fuck because I'm a callous bastard and don't have any idea how people empathize nor do I want to. Not having bacon at breakfast yesterday bothered me more than any disaster you care to name.
Feb. 3rd, 2003 03:49 am (UTC)
space shutup
No one gives a fuck that you don't give a fuck.
And the newspapers are just trying to make a buck.
That rhymes, see? If you happen to think about
it again, ask yourself do all those people die
because they chose to attempt something few
human beings have ever done that carries so
much risk? Would *you* get on EVEN an AIRPLANE
if it was only the 20th one (or whatever number
spaceship it was, I pulled that number out of
my booty) that had ever gone up? I'm certain
most of us are too chicken for that. That makes
it a completely different situation.
Feb. 3rd, 2003 11:47 am (UTC)
Re: space shutup
I hate replying to trolls, but I'm bored.

The point is that if you're going to do something risky (i.e. the reason most people probably wouldn't do it) then you have to face the fact that there's a risk involved. It doesn't necessarily make you a better person it just makes you a person trained in a particular way that chooses to take a risk for whatever reason they choose. While most people would say that noone deserves to die they all will anyhow. Death is inevitable, but by elevating deaths that manage to invade your consciousness you simultaneously fail to recognize the deaths of everyone that you don't happen to know about. You end up becoming hypocritical in saying that only some people's deaths are valid while purporting to believe that all death is a terribly tragic thing worthy of much moaning and crying.

Also, I hate you personally.
Feb. 3rd, 2003 02:26 pm (UTC)
Re: space shutup
May I just say you handled the personal attack very well? Nicely done, Mark.
Feb. 3rd, 2003 05:06 pm (UTC)
Re: space shutup
he's experienced. and I don't even mean that in a bad way!
Feb. 3rd, 2003 06:12 am (UTC)
i don't blame you at all. i get teary-eyed whenever anyone mentions the AIDS in africa, because i know that people i know will die. i admit i am not as affected by the columbia explosion as i should be, and i'm certainly not as affected as you are. i'm a little more detached from the situation, but i think you're right to be so saddened by it. i think that's a sign of a sensitive person, and it's good to know that someone does care for more than a day.
Feb. 3rd, 2003 07:26 am (UTC)
I agree. I don't blame you for how you feel, but I think that the individual ranting about the space shuttle had a point. I mean, those seven people died for a noble cause, trying to further our understanding of the stars....but to me, Tiananmen Square was just as noble. It's true, thousands of people are being killed daily in the Middle East, for what causes? How can anyone justify the loss of human life? No one can.

I think that person went a tad overboard. Not just Americans have died in space. An Indian and an Israeli died. Seven deaths seems so small when I hear about the thirty that died in yesterday's bombing, but there can be no stance that more death equals more tragedy.

I'm with you on this, babe. I don't understand this specifically, because I'm not a scientist, but I refer back to my previous comment regarding Daniel Pearl. When he died, I felt hallow; he died for my cause, the truth and the freedom of press. So I think I have a good insight into why you're feeling the way you are and I do understand it.
Feb. 3rd, 2003 08:29 am (UTC)
Space flight
Not to argue, but to reiterate that those seven people
died ultimately for us to gain collective experience
in the field of space exploration. Think about it.
If you can, imagine thousands of years ago when the first
humans who ever built boats went out into water in them.
Do you think it was like taking your fiberglass craft
down to the lake and cranking up the outboard motor to
go on a nice afternoon fishing trip? Hardly. For years
most people died trying to navigate the waters, until we
learned what worked and what didn't, basically in order
for you to be able to go boating relatively safely today.
Would you similarly risk your life, like astronauts do?
And I don't mean Daniel Pearl a year ago. I mean being
a Daniel Pearl years ago traveling to investigate events
in the most hostile environment imaginable where there was
no respect or understanding given to any journalists at
all--none whatsoever--and any trip for every single
journalist could have been their last.

That's what the risks of space flight are like.
Feb. 3rd, 2003 02:21 pm (UTC)
Re: Space flight
I think I entirely missed the point of your post. What were you trying to prove?

And yes, if I was an investigative reporter, I would be willing to travel to hostile countries and investigate. Since I write mostly opinion columns, I can't exactly put myself in his shoes. But if that changes and I become an investigative reporter, yes. The truth is that important to me. Freedom of the press is that important. And it was for Daniel Pearl. I hope you weren't trying to insinuate his sacrifice was any less than those in space, because it wasn't. It was just as noble and for an equally honorable cause.
Feb. 4th, 2003 01:08 am (UTC)
Re: Space flight
The space shuttle was damaged at take-off. That was basically
a death sentence, no matter if they had turned the death trap
around that day--or if they stayed up there for 3 months trying
to delay re-entering the atmosphere. We couldn't exactly go
rescue them, ya know. They KNOW it's a HUMONGOUS risk they take
when they go up. And they go anyway; for that they deserve to
be honored. I admire the fearlessness of our astronaut pioneers.

I am not a particularly fearful person, but I like to only take *calculated* risks. And that doesn't include things like space flights. Hell, I won't buy a lottery ticket. 1 in 50 zillion odds? In my book, only fools do that. But if a few fearless individuals were not willing to take huge risks, we might not have made the progress we have made in things like airplane travel. We would not be as advanced than we are. Sure we would all WANT to fly... but until we figured out how to make it safe, most of us would say to each other "I'm not gonna do it--you do it!" It's a fact that
there is *bad* fearless as well as *good* fearless, and people
can do the wrong things with it. The World Trade Center might
still be here if fearless men wouldn't have been willing to
commit suicide for that mission....fearless people who went bad. There are all kinds of bad people, even journalists and
politicians and priests too...

Listen, I personally know at least one human being who WALKED AWAY
from an airplane crash. If you get in a bad car wreck, yes you might be killed....but there's half a chance someone will come scrape your mangled ass off the road and get you to a hospital
and you might be all better again one day. So can you consider
it very brave to get in a car? I don't.

Sure, Daniel Pearl sacrificed EXACTLY what the astronauts did.
Duh, he's dead. And yes, it's just as noble a cause--I AGREE
with that. And many very brave journalists and Red Cross people
travel to hostile environments everyday. Currently though, along
with many brave journalists, the more chicken journalists ALSO
go overseas and most do just FINE. Right now, for a few more years to come, we will see almost NO ONE except extremely brave people
going into space, until the odds are a little less shitty and we build some NICE SPACE AMBULANCES. See, even if Daniel Pearl was
one of the unlucky guys, it's highly possible that journalists
who get in trouble overseas still have a chance. Someone would
notice them missing, and we might actually go rescue them! YAY!
They won't all just have to fall to the ground like burnt flare.
Feb. 4th, 2003 07:16 pm (UTC)
Re: Space flight
Yes, the shuttle was damaged, but only MINUTELY. The damage did not cause the crash. I never indicated otherwise. I believe that they died valiantly. I'm really at a loss for why you're even arguing with me.

I understand your point about risks. And I know there are all kinds of bad people, but again...relevence?

When and where did I ever say it was brave to get into a car? I guess I do, to a degree. As I originally told Space, there's a risk in everything you do. You're more likely to die in a car wreck than a plane crash, and yet still people are afraid of planes. I think there's some bravery in every step outside the home, although I read somewhere once that most accidents happen within a five to ten mile radius of the home.

Yes, Daniel Pearl is dead. I guess the irony is that he died by the hands of the very people he was trying to create equality for. Anyway, only 'brave' people go over to the Middle East now; like I said, Pearl was a pacifist trying to show the truth of the Muslim religion and he still was assassinated by radicals. What, praytell, would become of the skeptical, pessimistic writers or philosophers that traveled overseas?

I don't think you can argue that space is more dangerous than the Middle East right now...hell, you can't even argue that space is more dangerous than America, because that's definately not true. The last space disaster of this magnitude was seventeen years ago. That, to me, illustrates you have a better chance of surviving a space voyage than surviving your dinner.
Feb. 4th, 2003 08:56 pm (UTC)
Re: Space flight
Journalists should have become astronauts instead. Boy,
I'll bet they can hardly wait until they're finally
allowed to go into space and cover space stories. This has been
a wonderful stimulating discussion. Thank you. Buckle up.
Feb. 4th, 2003 10:28 pm (UTC)
Re: Space flight
Well, sarcastic as your point may be, you're not too far off. I expect that a hundred years from now it will be routine for journalists to go up into the stars. It's safer than what many are doing now.

And I assure you, it's been just as stimulating for me. In fact, I think I understand the properties of the most inane of objects now, so thank you.
Feb. 4th, 2003 11:52 pm (UTC)
Re: Space flight
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<In fact, I think I understand the properties of the most inane of objects now, so thank you.>

You're welcome. I'm the original, journalists are cheap imitations.
Journalists are useless inadequate
crybabies who don't measure up. I chew
up journalists, and spit them out.
Feb. 5th, 2003 03:30 pm (UTC)
Re: Space flight
While certainly you are entitled to your opinions, I will say that most journalists don't hide behind faceless identities throwing bogus and unfounded accusations at everyone else. If you think journalists are 'useless, inadequate crybabies who don't measure up' I suggest you view yourself a little more closely in the future.

However, this is the last post. You've wasted enough of my time, and as a result, don't expect any reply to whatever retort you may have handy. Your illogical fallacies are giving me a headache.
Feb. 3rd, 2003 09:23 am (UTC)
Gonna sound Cheesy...
You know, dear, it was really insightful when I read your entry about the shuttle, and how our planes are made so well, so perfectly. Us mortals don't think about what goes into those planes. All we see are the crashed on TV and TWA going under, and things like that. We never think about the...what? Billions of other successful flights? The lives planes have saved BECAUSE people like you are so devoted to preserving life and making a safe mode of transit? No one thinks about it, I confess, including me. So it was refreshing, in a strange way, to read this. Trust the Spacefem...(Shakes head)

It IS sad that those astronaughts died. But Mark was right. People die every day, some for worthless causes, others for very worthwhile causes. The only real differences with these Spacemen was that A. THey were Ours, and B. We were watching. Just like all the crap the president always gets caught with. He's not extra ordinary. He's just a man. The only difference? We were watching him when it happened. And people are always watching him.

So there's my two cents...

Oh yeah. And for all the people scared to get on a plane now, does anyone consider that it's probably the SAFEST to fly now that it ever HAS been in history? My baby niece just came and went from Indiana on a plane, and now I know who to thank for it. (Patpat)
Feb. 5th, 2003 01:24 am (UTC)
Spectacle and scope and purpose are what make the difference between "tragic" and "unfortunate."
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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