On July 20, 1969, I had just turned 15. The Apollo moon landing was the entire preoccupation of the day. The feelings of that moment remain vivid in memory: awe that the future I had read about so avidly in science fiction had arrived; inspiration -- an expansion of consciousness -- at the thought that the moon in the sky was now and forever a place where people had walked (and danced!); a deep, unifying sense of participation in a moment and event of almost unimaginable historic significance: to be of the generation privileged to witness a wonder that in all preceding ages of human life could only have been dreamed, if even imagined.
|Photo: David D. Rose, July 20, 1969|
I still reflect often and with amazement on the age of wonders we inhabit with such nonchalance ("we" privileged affluent First World folks, anyway). We are the generation of humankind who dine and watch movies as we fly above the clouds in gigantic machines; who cross oceans in hours, journeys that once took weeks or months and were fraught with every danger and possibility for calamity; who converse instantly with others anywhere in the world; who choose books, clothes, groceries, anything from a screen the size of a post-card and see them delivered to our homes within hours or less; who, if we choose, at the press of a button immolate entire cities in the blink of an eye. The list of wonders -- and horrors -- goes on and on: landing spaceships on comets; watching suns explode trillions of miles away; conceiving a world of physics in which the unimaginably small is essentially linked to all the magnitude of the universe; accepting a world in which a few delight in spectacular opulence while countless others die in abject, unheeded misery.
What dreams may come ahead? What future generations of humans, ages hence, if any remain, may look back at this age as a time of lost glory and immense cruelty, of mythical magic, of preposterous legends: when mystics saw visions from the far edges of the cosmos, vehicles flew faster than wind from one end of the world to the other, and people danced not only under, but on the Moon itself?