Fly Me To The Moon

copyright © 2008 Forgiven. The Disputed Truth

There has been a lot of talk recently about the “energy crisis”. I wonder if this is the same energy crisis we heard about in the 70’s? If it is then that means for over 30 years instead of solving our domestic energy needs, we have ignored them and allowed them to grow. In 1970 we were importing about 24% of the oil we used and the embargo back then threw our economy into a tail-spin, imagine what would happen today when we import about 70%. Rather than using the past 30 plus years to develop new or existing technologies to reduce or break our dependence on oil, we have elected to do something worse than nothing. Instead of our vehicles getting smaller and more fuel efficient during this time they have actually gotten larger.

Today we as a nation and as a world face one of the most daunting and important tasks in the history of mankind. We must put an end to our usage and dependence on fossil fuels. They have created an economic drain on our resources and they are killing our planet. We are borrowing money from one foreign country to pay our oil bills from another foreign country. This should be our biggest national security issue, yet few people are saying anything. You see it is the old diversion or bait and switch tactics. Focus on the faceless terrorists while we are bled dry by the oil countries and companies. How long do you think we can continue our crusade in the Middle East occupying these countries and still be dependent on their oil reserves?

I remember when I was a child a speech I heard, it was in 1961. The speechmaker was then President John F. Kennedy and what he said seemed shocking to me at the time. He challenged this nation to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Now imagine what that sounded like back then, many thought the man insane. Space exploration was still in it’s infant stages and the US was being beaten to every milestone by the Soviets. They had sent up the first satellite and the first man in space. The challenge seemed impossible at the time, after all space travel was the stuff of science fiction. But despite the overwhelming odds against the challenge enough of us accepted it and went about the business of making it a reality that we succeeded. Regardless of your opinion of the importance or relevance of space exploration, we all must marvel at the ingenuity we displayed as a nation to accomplish it.

Despite skeptics who thought it could not be accomplished, Kennedy’s dream became a reality on July 20, 1969, when Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong took a small step for himself and a giant step for humanity, leaving a dusty trail of footprints on the moon. CNN

Today we are being challenged by a different obstacle. One that I feel is vitally more important to not only us as a nation, but to the rest of the world. That challenge is how will we supply our energy needs into the future without destroying the planet we live on. The call has been sent up by both Al Gore and T. Boone Pickens as well as a host of other concerned citizens. The goal is to reduce and to eventually end our reliance on fossil fuels and replace them with clean renewable sources. Of course as with the naysayers of the 60’s there are those who say “it is too hard and we can’t do it”. There are those who want us to not only continue on this path of destruction but to escalate it by continuing to drill for fossil fuels no matter what the consequences.

It is sad to realize that we have become a nation of physically soft and intellectually lazy people. We have become fat, dumb, and happy. The energy companies would have us to believe that they will solve our energy needs for us. Are these the same energy companies that for the past 30 plus years have done absolutely nothing but rake in astronomical profits from fossil fuels and now they are going to put themselves out of business? Are these the same energy companies who in association with the automakers have given us the SUV and the Hummer as an answer to our shrinking energy supplies? It’s like the airplane is crashing and no one is saying a word. We all see it happening and everyone is just quietly sitting in their seat with their seatbelt on waiting on the inevitable crash.

“We are borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf to burn it in ways that destroy the planet. Every bit of that’s got to change,” the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007 continued. “But if we grab hold of that common thread and pull it hard all of these complex problems begin to unravel and we will find that we are holding the answer to all of them right in our hand. The answer is to end our reliance on carbon-based fuels. I’m convinced that one reason we’ve seemed paralyzed in the face of these crises is our tendency to offer old solutions to each crisis separately – without taking the others into account. And these outdated proposals have not only been ineffective – they almost always make the other crises even worse.” Mongabay

This was from a speech given by Al Gore where he makes a direct appeal to the nation much in the same way that JFK did 40 years ago. Every time I see Al Gore I am reminded of what could have been done if he had been seated as President. That election and the following one demonstrates for those willing to see the state of our nation. George Bush offered us all the things we wanted with none of the sacrifice. He was the snake oil salesman who promised us panacea in a bottle. Al Gore on the other hand presented us with challenges which would have required sacrifice. Many of us chose the snake oil, because it was easier. The time for easy is over. There are no more easy answers. There are no more tax-cuts and war; there is no more deregulation without foreclosures.

The U.S. should switch to the use of natural gas-powered vehicles for a chunk of the national fleet, Pickens said.

“Natural gas is cleaner, it’s cheaper, it’s abundant and it’s domestic,” Pickens said.

Natural gas generates about 22 percent of the country’s electricity. If most of that natural gas was diverted from electricity generation to fuel for cars and trucks, and if wind turbines generate that electricity instead, that would cut demand for imported oil by about $300 billion a year at today’s prices, Pickens said.  Straight Stocks

We have the technology to begin to solve our problems, the question then is do we have the will? Are we willing as a nation to take up the challenge and change the way we live for the good of all? Or shall we continue to be the selfish bullies of the world consuming the lion share of all the natural resources despite our small numbers? The challenge is there for us as a nation and with all that is at stake how can we not accept it. Many people falsely believe that if we change that jobs will be lost and our economy will tank, but I ask you to remember all of the industries and products that were spawned by the space industry. It may even return us to a nation of producers and not just the biggest consumers on the planet. Anyone for a flight to the moon?

The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived and dishonest — but the myth — persistent, persuasive and unrealistic.

~ John F. Kennedy

Why Do We Fear Hope?

In this country many of us equate strength with the lack of emotion.  The strong one is the one who can endure life without feeling.  The weak one is the one who shows their emotions and thus are banished to a life of disappointment and tragedy.  With the introduction of the political narrative of Barack Obama there has been a lot of talk about the word hope.  I don’t ever recall this word being dissected to the degree that it has been during his unlikely run towards the White House.  One would believe that no other politician has ever invoked the word in an election before.  So what makes it so different today than say in 1992, when a young upstart politician challenged the status quo?

For his part, Bill Clinton organized his campaign around another of the oldest and most powerful themes in electoral politics: change.  As a youth, Clinton had once met President John F. Kennedy, and in his own campaign 30 years later, much of his rhetoric challenging Americans to accept change consciously echoed that of Kennedy in his 1960 campaign.   Wikipedia

Or what about in 1960, when another youthful hope monger spoke so eloquently of hope for a new world while accepting the oath of office for President of the United States:

Now the trumpet summons us again — not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need — not as a call to battle, though embattled we are — but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, “rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation,”² a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.   American Rhetoric

So if it isn’t that the concept of hope is something new to elections, what can it be?  I remember being a child and towards the end of November I would be filled with hope of the coming season.  I wish I could say it was because I looked forward to exercising the true “spirit of the season” and all the good will towards my fellow man stuff, but that wasn’t what filled me with joy.  I would begin to have hopes of the new toys that I looked forward to receiving for Christmas.  I would watch in excitement at all the commercials of the coming new and latest toys and I would mentally create these lists of must have gadgets that I was sure to see under the tree on Christmas morning.

There was just one small problem, my father was a selfish man who found it difficult to spoil his children.  So for many years there was the promise and hope for all of these things only to be followed on Christmas morning by the stark reality that was less than I had hoped for.  You see as a child I could not understand or accept that my father was the man that he was, you see I wanted him to be like me or who I thought I was.  The truth was that he could only be the man he was, not who I so desperately wanted and maybe needed him to be.  I would awaken on Christmas morning to small tokens and I would end up crying later.  After a while, my hopes began to lessen year by year until they were replaced with the gradual numbing of reality.  The reality that no matter how much I hoped there was always going to be disappointment.  In the end, I just stopped hoping and came to accept the cruelty of life.

As my life continued, I came to the conclusion that my problem in the first place was that I had dared to hope, that I had dared to believe in anything other than myself.  I decided that from that point on that emotions were my problem, I would no longer allow anyone the ability to control my emotions.  In fact I would bury them, my hero became Spock from Star Trek because he had no emotions.  For many years I lived as emotionless as I could.  But after two broken marriages, addiction, and suicidal moments I realized the that the strength I thought I had found in having no emotions was actually my downfall and my weakness.  What I learned was that true strength and power does not belong to the cynic or the emotionless, but to those who are willing to express their emotions and become vulnerable to disappointment and hurt.  True courage is not to never be afraid, but to be afraid and go on anyway.

Barack Obama is not God or a second coming of Jesus and his supporters do not believe this despite the cult analogies.  He is simply a man who dares us to believe beyond ourselves.  He is not promising to solve all of our problems or that the Government can.  What he is offering us is a chance to put behind us many of the things that currently divide us and to focus on the many more things that unite us.  After all what really can one man, even the President of the United States do?  Over the last few decades we have seen what the politics of division and win at all costs has wrought, a country so divided we are on the verge of breaking.  There are many who say that the answer is to continue as we have, that the only way to succeed is to beat the other side to a pulp.  Today we are refighting the Civil War only class has replaced slavery.  Will it take a bloody conflict to resolve our differences?  I don’t know.  There are many who are placing their hopes and aspirations on him and those people will be disappointed, because he can do nothing against those forces without our help and our actions.

What I do know is this, if we are able to appeal to the common good in all of us shouldn’t we to avoid that bloody conflict?  Make no mistake about it if we do not enlist their help to change this country are we prepared to fight to take it?  If Barack Obama’s hope fails it won’t be because he failed, it will be because we failed.  If it is to succeed it will require many of us to overcome our cynicism and partisanship to come together for the greater good.  The reason he does so well among the young is because they are not as jaded as their older counterparts, they still believe in change.  The question now becomes can we transfer that hope into action or will we sit and wait for the disappointment so we can say, “See, I told you so”.  It is no longer enough to vote, the last midterm election should have shown us that.  We must follow up those votes with action.  Just as with any seismic change in America, it must be bottom up, not top down.  Our biggest fear is not that we are doomed, our biggest fear is that our hero will be bested; that the things we cherish love, hope, justice, and kindness to our fellowman will not win in the end.

The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived and dishonest — but the myth — persistent, persuasive and unrealistic – John F. Kennedy

Robert Frost; The Gift Outright Relived ©

Please read the story behind the story and enjoy the video presentation of Robert Frost publicly delivering a poem he did not intend to share at the inauguration of John Fitzgerald Kennedy.  Please excuse the prologue commercial advertisement if you are able to “Launch” the video.  Actually, on my computer that is all I am able to view.  Perhaps the link will work on your machine.

I wish to offer the poem Robert Frost recited from memory at the inauguration of John Fitzgerald Kennedy.  I think this elegy it o fitting as we reflect on America and the year as it passes.  The words were presented in memorial this Christmas Eve morning on NBC Network News program, “Meet The Press.”  Poet Robert Frost read the verse on air on Christmas Day 1955.

The Gift Outright
The land was ours before we were the land’s.?
She was our land more than a hundred years?
Before we were her people.
She was ours  In Massachusetts, in Virginia,
But we were England’s, still colonials,
Possessing what we still were unpossessed by,
Possessed by what we now no more possessed.
Something we were withholding made us weak?
Until we found out that it was ourselves?We were withholding from our land of living,
And forthwith found salvation in surrender.
Such as we were gave ourselves outright?
(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)?
To the land vaguely realizing westward,
But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
Such as she was, such as she would become.

The Gift Outright was not the verse an eighty-six year young man, Robert Frost intended to read.  However, the sun was in his eyes.  The glare did not allow for his reading.  He wrote an epic specifically for the auspicious occasion a Presidential inauguration.

For decades, the text was lost.  Fortunately, it was found this April 2006.

An envelope arrived at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library in Boston.

“I only wish that I’d been the one lucky enough to open the mail,” says Deborah Leff, director of the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.  “Our chief archivist got a package unsolicited in the mail, and what was in that package was the original writing of a poem, by Robert Frost, in Robert Frost’s hand.  The poem that was intended to be read at the inauguration of President Kennedy.  We didn’t even know that this was something that we didn’t have.  We didn’t even know this existed.”

And the story doesn’t end there.

“The archivist happened to notice some pencil writing and it happened to be in the hand of Jacqueline Kennedy noting that this was the first thing ever hung in President Kennedy’s office, just three days after the inauguration.”

It was a private gift.  A wife’s personal inscription to her husband.  Fading with time, like our memories of that time.  But now, at least, it belongs to the people.

The faded pencil inscription from Jackie to Jack reads: “For Jack, First thing I had framed to put in your office – first thing to be hung there.”

It turns out the poem has been in someone’s private collection for all these years.

Today, let us hang it here at BeThink.  I believe this poem may be more profound and worthy of greater reflection.  Perhaps coupling the two will serve us well.  This nation needs to evaluate its undertakings, to assess its accomplishments, and to consider the principles we profess to believe in.  Perchance poet Frost provides us with an opportunity.  We might begin to reason again, For John F. Kennedy and his coming of age, for America and its rite of passage, Robert Frost wrote . . .

Summoning artists to participate?
In the august occasions of the state
Seems something artists ought to celebrate.

Today is for my cause a day of days.
And his be poetry’s old-fashioned praise
Who was the first to think of such a thing.

This verse that in acknowledgement I bring
Goes back to the beginning of the end
Of what had been for centuries the trend;
A turning point in modern history.

Colonial had been the thing to be
As long as the great issue was to see
What country’d be the one to dominate
By character, by tongue, by native trait,
The new world Christopher Columbus found.

The French, the Spanish, and the Dutch were downed
And counted out. Heroic deeds were done.
Elizabeth the First and England won.

Now came on a new order of the ages
That in the Latin of our founding sages
(Is it not written on the dollar bill
We carry in our purse and pocket still?)
God nodded His approval of as good.

So much those heroes knew and understood–
I mean the great four, Washington, John Adams, Jefferson, and Madison–

So much, they knew as consecrated seers
They must have seen ahead what now appears:
They would bring empires down about our ears
And by example of our Declaration
Make everybody want to be a nation.

And this is no aristocratic joke
At the expense of negligible folk.
We see how seriously the races swarm
In their attempts at sovereignty and form.

They are our wards we think to some extent
For the time being and with their consent,
To teach them how Democracy is meant.

“New order of the ages” did we say?
If it looks none too orderly today,
‘Tis a confusion it was ours to start
So, in it have to take courageous part.

No one of honest feeling would approve
A ruler who pretended not to love
A turbulence he had the better of.

Everyone knows the flowry of the twain
Who gave America the aeroplane
To ride the whirlwind and the hurricane.
Some poor fool has been saying in his heart
Glory is out of date in life and art.

Our venture in revolution and outlawry
Has justified itself in freedom’s story
Right down to now in glory upon glory.

Come fresh from an election like the last,
The greatest vote a people ever cast,
So close yet sure to be abided by,
It is no miracle our mood is high.

Courage is in the air in bracing whiffs
Better than all the stalemate an’s and ifs.
There was the book of profile tales declaring
For the emboldened politicians daring
To break with followers when in the wrong,
A healthy independence of the throng,
A democratic form of right divine
To rule first answerable to high design.

There is a call to life a little sterner,
And braver for the earner, learner, yearner.
Less criticism of the field and court
And more preoccupation with the sport.

It makes the prophet in us all presage
The glory of a next Augustan age
Of a power leading from its strength and pride,
Of young ambition eager to be tried,
Firm in our free beliefs without dismay,
In any game the nations want to play.

A golden age of poetry and power
Of which this noonday’s the beginning hour.

Please share your thoughts on America, then and now.  I have a few of my own, mostly in the form of questions. 

I ask; when did the “new order of the ages” truly begin and when will it conclude?  Have we in this nation aspired to the high design of our forefathers, or do we deliver other countries and civilizations from what we deem “evil.” 

I sigh and continue to ponder.  How might we define this “golden age” or has that time past?  If inspired glory and imaginative greatness is no more, might it come again?  Perchance we entered an era of no return.  I hope this is not so.  I believe we can always become what we long to be.  We changed once; thus, can transform ourselves again. 

Sadly, I inquire, who will set us [the people of United States] free.  Perhaps poets are our guides.  In my mind, our present authorities offer no answers.  They give us no vision.  Lest we forget the cry that created this great land, “Power to the people,” the poets, and those that trust, “all men are created equal.”  Please recall, The “People have the power!”

Robert Frost Resources . . .

  • The poem nobody knew was lost. By Brian Williams. NBC News April 25, 2006
  • Robert Frost The Literature Network
  • Robert Frost Poems MSNBC News
  • Kennedy Presidential Library.
  • Robert Frost’s Original Poem for JFK’s Inauguration Finds Way to Kennedy Presidential Library. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
  • The Gift Outright. By Robert Frost. Poem recited at John F. Kennedy’s Inauguration. John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.
  • People have the power! Lyrics By Patti Page
  • Power To The People Lyrics Public Enemy