Recently, we read a startling and thought-provoking message from NASA, informing the public that in 2020, it will begin allowing private citizens to travel to the International Space Station in spacecrafts like those used by astronauts. The advertised price for tourist “budget” accommodations was stated to be $250,000 for transportation (previously, priced in the millions), and for lodging in the Space Station, $35,000 per diem. We had a strong, but later, rather mixed, response to the advertised proposal.
Our initial reaction was one of pride in the exponential American advances in technical and scientific capability. The first fight at Kittyhawk, in 1903, traveled 120 feet, in the 1930’s the flight of Amelia Earhart across the Atlantic, the initial Pan Am flight to Europe, in 1939 ( and to Germany and Western Europe, 1946); later followed by America’s later astounding advances in aviation and mind-numbing accomplishments in Space. The latter included landing a man on the moon, accomplishing vital satellite systems in space, and sending exploratory investigative robot mechanisms out to the entire Solar System, including the distant and controversial entity, Pluto.
Our feelings, then suddenly shifted, from those evincing national pride in America’s technical and scientific advances to those of discomfort, disapproval and then anger. The shift was due to the shocking realization of NASA’s evident failure of perception and insensitivity regarding the predictable reaction of the average citizen, challenged by personally limited financial capability. This short-sighted lack of awareness and evident misplacement of realistic priorities caused us to perceive the advertised adventure, as comparable to Marie-Antoinette’s “If the people have no bread, let them eat cake”, or to the hubristic tragic Greek myth of the immature youth, Icarus. The insensitive public advertisement of such an exorbitant and lavish enterprise appears to be an indication of NASA’s misplaced priorities and insensitivity, especially applicable at this time of economic privation and loss due to the pandemic.
The advertised, outrageously ostentatious enterprise, by its logistical, scientific, and political nature, will inarguably require substantial governmental participation and financing, possibly to the detriment of adequate provisions for the amelioration of the economically challenged life of the average American citizen, and constitutes an offensive and cruel display and assertion of morally misplaced priorities.
But there indeed, are more profound fundamental grounds for our displeasure, which have reference to the consistent and fundamental purpose of this blogspace, now in its (five) years of existence. Our singularly dedicated purpose and recommended priorities have articulated consistently ( if not redundantly) the encouragement and development of man’s mature self -knowledge and consistent sense of personal identity, upon which reasoned deliberations and moral choices are based; which we have declared, overrides all other aspirations. It is the successful attainment and advancement of a mature, and moral goal that is the essential, empirical prerequisite for the realization of happiness and a successful and fulfilled human life.
In stark contrast to the one-time experience of the advertised glitzy space ride, the route to the destination of mature inner consciousness and self-awareness is an internal life-long journey, or inner space voyage. The exotic destination in the words of the Greek philosopher, Socrates, is to “know thyself.” What is involved is a distant route, not measurable in miles or lightyears, but in the objective and developed practice of reason during a self-examined life experience. This educative and developmental expedition requires no prior reservation, no physical criteria of health or age, but it does affirmatively mandate mindfulness and, as well, an awareness of the self in the course of a lifetime of internal audit and private, candid self-evaluation.
In just shy of 600 posts, inclusive of mini-essays, poetry and narrative fiction, our salient theme has been the priorities of personal advancement, sensitive perception of others and a sincere effort to learn about our human existence on this Planet by one’s objective and analytical, experience. This is accomplished internally, by one’s constant awareness of living socially in community with others and his maintenance of the reflective, scrupulously candid practice of inner thought, which we have frequently referred to as, “the lifelong conversation with oneself.” The discipline of self-correction or improvement may, indeed, be more valuable than innate capability. This life- long voyage to one’s inner space is the most effective barometer of a fulfilled and successful life, and thus, more valuable, and useful than a one-time, memorable, and glitzy, excursion to the International Space Station.
Man’s voyage to deep inner space is successfully accomplished by, discussing comparative points of view with other travelers, demonstrating sincere emotional empathy for others, and, very importantly, reading good books, and thereby discovering the eternal nature of mankind, and its universally occurring issues. The voyage is enhanced by the development of an enduring elective interest and, importantly, an internal satisfaction founded upon a sincerely held personal resolve to be an exemplar of a sensitive, responsible, and knowledgeable member of the human community.
The lifelong voyage to his nuanced inner space is man’s most existentially fulfilling, exciting and purposefully useful voyage.