The Town Scryer is a mixed bag of humor, socio-political observations and ephemera from the perspective of a eclectic Pagan veteran of the counter-culture.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

A Sense of Awe and Wonder

    Every generation of the modern era has events that defines it. If you examine these events you gain insight into their motivations. My grandmother saw the replacement of the horse with the automobile as a means of personal transportation. The Wright brothers flew when she was in college. She lived through the Great Depression and the Great War. These things shaped her reality. For me it was the space program and nuclear fission. I grew up in awe of the first and in the shadow of the second. When I was in the hospital having my tonsils out I read about Chuck Yeager and Scott Crossfield and all of the other X craft pilots in comic books. I collected bubble gum cards a year or two later with pictures of of all of the Mercury and Gemini astronauts on the front and a 3-D serialized comic book very much like the later movie, "Mars Attacks" on the back. They had to be viewed with special glasses with one green and one red cellophane lens. I watched eagerly on black and white TV as the rockets roared aloft from the stained hard places.
   About the same time we got the new telephone book dropped on our front porch. Inside was a piece of cardboard with instructions on how to prepare for and shelter from a nuclear attack. Once a month there would be "bomb drills" in addition to the fire drills in my grade school where we would all file into the hallway and crouch on our knees with our little hands clasped over the backs of our necks to protect them from flying glass.Bert the turtle said, "Duck and cover".

  The bogeyman of the day was Communism. In my grandmother's day it was "The Yellow Peril". Now the fear du jour is "terrorism" and Islamophobia.
   When I was sixteen I watched Neil Armstrong on TV and in that one magical and surreal moment the moon was transformed from a light in the night sky to a place. Someone had actually gone there and I might some day go there too.Technology was god in the 60s. "Better Living Through Chemistry" hadn't become a cruel joke yet. Rachel Carson's book "The Silent Spring" had just come out but most of the down-side of pesticide reliance wouldn't make the news for years yet. They had built a nuclear powered submarine and nuclear powered spacecraft were coming one day. Freeman Dyson had designed one that would use atomic bombs for propulsion. There was even talk of using nukes to dig a new canal like the one in Panama across Honduras!

      The generation after mine grew up with the space shuttle as something so common that it got scant news coverage...until January of 1986 when it all went horribly wrong. Now the Discovery is being retired and the others will soon follow. The X-37 is supposed to replace them but it is being tested in secret. There isn't much awe and wonder to be had in a secret trial. A pity. The next generation growing up could probably use a little wonder about now.

     It is good to have something to balance out the fear.

     Be seeing you.


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