Last night the mars rover touched down, and for the first time ever, thousands of geeky science enthusiasts poured into times square to watch it on the big screen. When the safe landing was announced, people erupted into chants of “Science! Science! Science!”
It was the ‘nerdiest gathering ever’ according to twitter. But it signaled more than that. Missions to Mars and exploring the universe are a subversive, dischordant signal to those in power to would prefer to keep us from dreaming too much. You see, small dreams drive capitalism, but big dreams could topple it.
Feeding the poor is one of those visions that is impeded by a crisis of imagination, not a crisis of resources. The people currently living well cannot fathom living under a different set of rules, and only a different set of rules would make it possible to feed everybody.
Most leaders form an uncreative, unimaginative class who thrive off the status quo. They think in months and years, not generations and epochs. And I’m not just talking about USA. The whole world suffers from short-sighted leadership right now. Missions to Mars give us permission to dream big, and some of us will be the very people to oust these leaders. Local myopia never fixed a global problem, and cutting inspirational programs has never put more food in anyone’s stomach.
This Facebook comment triggered many reactions.
And several people chimed in to defend science.
Maarten, the evil storm trooper, is right.
When leaders can’t meet any of the day-to-day challenges in USA, we need scientists to remind us that there is more… that we can do more as a species… and be more than just a bunch of territorial buffoons on a rock in this great universe.
So don’t tell me this is a waste of money when people are hungry and unemployed. They’re hungry & unemployed BECAUSE we’re too self-obsessed and told big things don’t work.
Or you could look at it this way:
Successful parasites suck life from their hosts without the hosts ever being aware. Political leaders who fail so often that we’ve come to expect it are a form of public parasite. When scientists can change our view of the universe for 1 penny per US taxpayer, and do it without failing, we make the public aware of just how inept our political and economic leaders have grown.
So if you hunger for justice, work for peace.
If you hunger for equality, work towards awareness.
If you hunger for opportunity, break down barriers to those who may compete with you.
And if you want something to happen about jobs, poverty, crime, and fixing the ecosphere, vote. Vote scientists into power. At the moment there is only one of this profession in the halls of congress (I don’t count MDs): Bill Foster. That leaves 534 open seats in the US Senate and US House that remain to be filled by plain spoken, rational, and results-oriented scientists.
(Now if only these would-be scientist-politicians didn’t have to rely on Pharma / Biochemical industry money… that would be a big dream come true!)