In this week’s spotlight, I’d like to take a moment to discuss the recent road trip my son and I made evaluating the idea that the first moonwalk was the most significant achievement of humankind in the last century. When we asked folks for the truly greatest accomplishment of humankind in the 20th Century, almost unanimously the answer was Apollo 11’s mission to the moon. Neil Alden Armstrong’s famous quote, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” was often cited. Now for the record, Armstrong himself argued that what he really said, and in his view this was critical in that the sentence made little sense unless corrected, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
There were some runner up ideas regarding the great achievements of the twentieth century—ideas such as nuclear technology, string theory, and personal computers. That said, nothing even came close to matching the numbers of those who found Apollo 11 the single most significant accomplishment of the last century. So, when we asked folks about this ambitious undertaking, what did they have to say?
Giant Step for Mankind?
We heard very many different answers and I will be fleshing those all out in an upcoming piece, but here’s a short version. Answers varied so I’ll share a few. “It was the cold war and we won—we beat the Ruskies (Russians).” “We should have gone on to colonize Mars.” “It didn’t make any difference, the world is more divided today than ever!” “The only giant leap for mankind was technology like smart phones and where did that get us. People don’t even talk anymore, they text instead. They’re glued to their devices and as people we become more and more alienated from ourselves and others.” “I think the whole thing was staged in some movie set. They never really went to the moon or we’d have gone back.” “Check the Internet—you will find that we never walked on the moon. That was propaganda designed to bluff the Russians.” And finally, “One thing is for sure, the inhabitants of spaceship earth hate one another as much today as ever! Mankind’s giant leap seems to be the media. Today we know who was killed, who’s head was chopped off, who wore a bomb into a busy shopping center, and who died where and when—and all of this in a never ending 24 hour cycle.”
I have to wonder what Commander Armstrong himself would say today. What are your thoughts and more importantly, what is it that each of us can do to build toward the realization that a truly giant leap for mankind is one where the world is much more peaceful than it is today. Peace, balance and harmony—that should be our goal. My thoughts anyway.
As always, thanks for the read and I appreciate your feedback.
NY Time Bestselling Author of Choices and Illusions