Setting foot on the Moon is possibly the biggest single statement of exploration, that innately human ambition, ever made. We live in a different world now, and a different time. We look back nostalgically on the Apollo missions as “the good old days”, but this is not the right way to be looking.
Our world is now so removed from exploration that people exist who dare to say that the Apollo landings never happened. This line of thinking should never even cross people’s minds, much less have anyone agreeing with it. Plainly, it’s as ludicrous as questioning if Robert Falcon Scott ever really went to Antarctica, if Edmund Hillary ever truly climbed Everest, or if Yuri Gagarin ever truly went to orbit. The notion is preposterous, and yet it exists. The worst part is that it exists because we allow it to.
Going about their day to day lives, many people now carry a pocket sized mobile device which probably has more computing power than the entire Apollo 11 command module. Many people are reading this on a computer which would have made the most advanced NASA computers in the 1960s pale into insignificance. And yet, we’re losing sight of where we should really be looking.
That Neil Armstrong didn’t live to see anyone else set foot on the Moon is a sad shame, and should be an embarrassment to the rest of us. We live in a world where in 2011, the US alone spent $14.8 billion on internet advertising, and yet there are people who’re willing to argue that a relatively small $2.5 billion to land on Mars is a waste of money. The world’s priorities are broken. I truly hope that those who hold the purse strings can stop looking at spreadsheets for long enough to look up to the sky every once in a while. Perhaps they might see that.
We need to keep exploring. It’s what we do best. Few things in life provide more inspiration or a better feeling of togetherness than all looking in the same direction and saying, not that “they did it” but that “we did it.”