I am sure we all read about the passing of Neil Armstrong yesterday, the first person to have stepped off earth, who set foot on another “planet,“—our moon, on July 20, 1969. We recall his immortal initial comment etched in our memory as secure as Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.” I submit, that I can speak for many who read this that we agree with the first part, but maybe not the 2nd.
For those like my nephew, and others whose “small step” is limited to a cane, a walker,— a motorized wheelchair, there is no “giant leap for mankind.” All distance is relative as the kitchen floor for them is as far away a place as the moon.
It is good that we explore other worlds. At the same time Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery in 1803 made a “giant leap” by exploring the unknown beyond the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean, Dr. Benjamin Rush, in Philadelphia, the leading medical authority of his day, prescribed a “wonder drug, “ derisively know as “Rush’s Thunderbolts” that often actually hastened one’s death by causing explosive diarrhea !
Sadly, it is the human condition to reach out to other worlds as our own rotates in shambles for many. It is as if hope trumps misery, —except for the “miserable” !
It is good that we constantly aspire to climb Mt. Everest, explore the land of “savages” beyond St. Louis, — land on the moon, or today, roam with laser-guided robots on Mars.
Because of our evolutionary focus on solving the “next big thing,” be it walking upright, harnessing fire, communicating thru language, designing more efficient arrow heads, coordinating hunting, civilization, — moonwalks, we became more “human.” Yet, ironically, we mimic the beasts, by abandoning those left behind !
Even for non-believers, Jesus teaches us that no one gets “left behind.” He fed the hungry where there was no food, the blind were made to see, a Samaritan outcast woman was made to feel whole, — and, the crippled picked up their palates and walked away ! We believers of course accept that the “giant leap for mankind” is Jesus’ Resurrection, its Hope for Eternal Life. Yet, for the rest of us, can we not follow in His footsteps, and thru our gift of Reason and Science, follow His way, make the blind see, — have the crippled leave their motorized palette behind to walk away ?
If we do these things with all the zeal and fervor of Lewis’ and Clark’s oars straining against the current of the Missouri River, — Neil Armstrong’s alien walk on the void of the moon, then we ought then, and only then, truly celebrate, a “giant leap for mankind.”