Remember that iconic line uttered by Neil Armstrong when he descended from the ladder of Apollo 11’s Lunar Excursion Module, to become the first man to set foot on the moon, 40 years ago to the day? Who can ever forget them?
Well, seems that Neil himself did. Apparently in his excitement, he fluffed what he was actually meant to have said, so that today we all know those famous words as:
That’s one small step for man; one giant leap for mankind.
What he actually should have said was:
That’s one small step for a man; one giant leap for mankind.
However, that small omission actually gave the world a statement, with so much more meaning. The moon landing represented a turning point in the history of man. On this momentous day, earth-bound man stepped into the domain, long thought to belong to the gods. The moon landing was meant to be the first major step in man’s journey of discovery of himself and his limitations, and then the mysteries of the universe itself.
Exactly 40 years later; the small step has been taken, but the giant leap remains a dream for nearly the whole of mankind. Forty years of scientific discovery and technological progress, that makes the moon landing look like child’s play, has not yet equipped the ordinary man to let go of superstitious beliefs, to make peace instead of war, to feed the millions who are starving, to rid himself of the unnatural hold of religion, to love instead of hate, to be kind, to suppress anger and envy.
Instead, we have found innovative new ways to destroy each other, whole countries, monuments that we have built. Our greed has brought us to the brink of economic ruin, or selfishness has alienated us from the poor and destitute. Our politicians entrench their self-serving culture, even supporting shielding common dictators and human rights violators such as Robert Mugabe and Omar Bashir. Endless wars abound, to promote crass religious ideology, political hegemony and exploitative business interests. We pollute the environment with little or no heed for the harm caused to both man and animal. We plunder our natural resources for short term monetary gain.
The world is a mess! But there is hope, for some of us have started the journey of discovery anew. We have abandoned the superstitious baggage, embraced critical thinking, re-acquainted ourselves with the tenets of morality and ethics. We have no wish to worship the moon; just use it as a springboard for that giant leap into the rest of the universe, that’s been promised 40 years ago that’s long overdue.