Curiosity has landed! And another step on the “new frontier” has been taken. WOOT!
We’re also still taking steps on the new frontier that John Kennedy spoke of back in July 1960. Why is this on my mind? I watched “Justice League: New Frontier” yesterday. It starts with the paranoia of the 50s and ends with Kennedy’s speech as the Justice League celebrates their victory, diversity over extinction. I’m not a big DC fan but this one’s pretty good. Wonder Woman is quite the Amazon in this one and I’m always a WW fan.
It’s been more than half a century, 52 years, since that speech that started the space race in earnest, which mentioned that people still hated and feared Roman Catholics. It was a speech that confirmed that the best of the United States was its Constitution, when it supported the rights of all, approving of no religion or group over any others. The mere existence of this speech shows just how fragile the United States was and still is. It takes people, not corporations, not dependence on the supernatural, to keep these principles. Despite Kennedy’s religious references. It’s still a great speech and I like it.
It’s also a shame that we are still talking about such things that Kennedy mentioned and that some people would wish to return to the 50s, a time that was not the idyllic Leave it to Beaver fantasy that conservatives of various stripes would claim. This was a time before social safety nets were as they are today, ways to help people with the same problems that we haven’t fixed yet. It was a time where paranoia and fear ruled, with “have you now or ever been” was the question of the day, determining who the “real” Americans were. We still have the same problems that Kennedy mentioned, farms that fail, the elderly who need medical care, the unemployed, and the programs he proposed with the idea that a country could stand by them and support them. Unfortunately, now, we hear about how those programs should be removed, that no one deserves a good education, or health care or a decent meal or equal rights. We still have those who are sure that they and only they are the “real Americans”, with loyalty oaths, lines drawn against religion and skin color, violence against those who are different. Did these programs proposed or continued by Kennedy eliminate the problems? No, but it has given us time to work on them and we have made great strides. However, we still have sacrifices to make and work to do to achieve this new frontier.
In this year, 2012, there are self-declared prophets of doom on all sides, sure that some magical event will “end the world”. Similar claims are always made when people are fearful, who want to remain complacent and selfish sure that “something” will remove their responsibility to other people. If a god returns, then no sacrifices will have to be made, no work will need done. We have those who want control of everyone, to force them to the yoke of a religion or political belief; sure that conformity will protect them. They screech and howl about how we need to obey and beg forgiveness of some god, for that is the only way to be protected. However, such exhortations only protect them from needing to think and protects their power over others. Kennedy warned against the mindlessness of the Communist system, and we find ourselves threatened by a far too similar thing now with the claims that only those pale enough, those “Christian” enough, those powerful enough can have a say in government. So many in the United States now want to believe that freedom of choice, opportunity for all, tolerance for alternatives is not “American”. And, yes, it is “simpler” to not accept someone who is different than you, to keep the status quo, to keep one’s private comforts rather than consider sharing them with others. Change is scary but with change comes growth. That’s the only way societies survive.
Kennedy’s speech ends with an invocation that one should wait for a god to help, to “renew our strength” but then promptly ignored his own words. Reality always trumps religious nonsense. It was not America waiting for some god to do something, but the hard work and cooperation of Americans, that got us to the moon and now on Mars again, that showed that we could be more humane and decent than any god. All by simply thinking and doing for ourselves and for each other. And the Boss likes this alot.
PS: before anyone might post a political rant for or against what Kennedy did, I’d suggest reading the wiki article linked to above. The “New Frontier” and its programs had something for everyone, everyone except extremists anyway. I vote and think issues, not “party”. And yes, I have done my research. I suggest you do yours.
UPDATE: it’s a shame that such great things can be done by Americans, including the Voting Rights Act which has an anniversary today, but then we have jingoistic assholes who are indeed Americans on Fox News attacking a great young woman for her choice of tights when she won a gold medal in the 2012 Olympics. Oh noes, they aren’t wrapped in the flag! Talk about McCarthyism risen again. Time for loyalty oaths and delusions that putting some god on money as if it might make “commies” burst into flame.