Ron Bell writes today of Al Qaeda and SpaceShipOne:
What a difference a day makes.
Less than a week after Al Qaeda beheaded American Paul Johnson in its continuing effort to restore the Middle East to a medieval caliphate ruled by religious fiat comes the successful suborbital flight of SpaceShipOne, a private initiative that represents the best of which humankind is capable.
Could there be a starker study in contrasts?
On the one hand, murderous religious zealots caught up in the imagined glories of a bygone era, dedicated to the proposition that all learning must be filtered and all understanding tempered by the repressive flame of orthodoxy; on the other, individuals committed to opening new frontiers of knowledge, not because it is easy or certain but because it is hard.
Outer space embodies freedom. It is the final frontier, the last unclimbed mountain in an era that has seen more accelerated technological and social change than any that came before. Such rapid metamorphosis can’t help but frighten those who take comfort in certitude. So it is not surprising that some would demand that the world slow down, rest apace, even rewind its historical clock.
Ron’s post reminds me of something that Victor Davis Hanson might write. A fascinating comparison between western civilization and the fundamentalists clinging to a past that they can’t hope to save.
As I watched the news reports of SpaceShipOne yesterday, I was reminded of President Kennedy’s speech:
We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is the one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intended to win, and the others, too.
Burt Rutan and his team have chosen to do the other thing – because it is hard.
And the world has changed, yet again…