Risk & Courage

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader was reading over the news wires and caught this peice about the impending launch of the Space Shuttle a few days ago. The jist of the AP wire story is that astronauts on the Discovery are going to be risking their lives when NASA launches the shuttle on July 1. NASA calculates the odds of a fatal disaster at 1:100.

Frankly, those odds seem a little too precise and clean to be the real odds. But hey… Your Maximum Leader is not a statistician…

Regardless of what your Maximum Leader might think about the Space Shuttle programme or the job NASA is doing, he is a big believer in space exploration. (NB to all readers: In case you’ve not read - or can’t remember earlier pronouncements on the Space Shuttle - your Maximum Leader believes that the shuttle is an old programme that needs to be scrapped and NASA needs to focus on other types of exploration. Your Maximum Leader will commend to you Buckethead’s recent entry on the Post Office & Aviation for a good template for future NASA endeavours.) Being a big beliver in space exploration he is also a realist. Exploring space is a dangerous business. All sorts of exploration (in the true sense of the word - not the 2nd grade version of “let’s explore our feelings!”) aredangerous excursions. There is a significant chance of death. That chance of death is, in some ways, what is alluring about exploration.

What upset your Maximum Leader about that Reuters peice was the hand-wringing, namby-pamby “Oh My God We’re Gonna Die!” element of it. On the one hand, the success, through the early 80s and then again through the 1990s, of NASA marketing Shuttle voyages as reasonably safe can lead to an over-acute sense of danger as we try to get the programme started again. But on the other hand your Maximum Leader thinks it is a reflection of our hand-wringing, namby-pamby, milquetoast society.

Are Americans explorers any more? Are we risk-takers? Do we have courage to dare might things and win glorious triumphs (although checkered by defeat)?

More and more your Maximum Leader isn’t sure that we as a nation are courageous. Sure there are lots of courageous Americans. Those courageous Americans are astronauts, police officers, soliders, sailors, airmen. But as a whole Americans may have lost (or are in the process of losing) our sense of national courage. We wring our hands over the Space Shuttle. We wring our hands over our fat lazy children. We wring our hands over what “the world” thinks of us. We wring our hands about everything. And because we are a public people, we do our hand wringing publicly. Our public decent into pansyness has strengthened our enemies, weakened our friends, and made us look to the world as uncomfortable as a metrosexual at a monster truck rally.

Your Maximum Leader will watch the Space Shuttle launch tomorrow. He will say a prayer that our astronauts are launched into space and safely returned. He will not anticipate the worst. He will not expect to fail. He will hope to watch with respect as the courageous astronauts do what they are trained and want to do. If, God forbid, there is a disaster, your Maximum Leader will greive. Then he will hope we get right back on that horse and ride.

Carry on.

Kevin Kim said:

Well said.


Of course, even exploring your feelings in the second grade sense can be dangerous. Just not in the same way.

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