The “Starman Tesla” we’ve all heard about in the news has caused quite a stir. Elon Musk’s launching of his own personal Red Tesla Roadster into space with “Starman” – a Spacesuit-clad dummy – at the wheel has captured the imaginations of many, producing innumerable new internet memes.
On the other hand, a fair number of Progressives and those involved in social justice have pointed to this as a prime example of the imbalances in today’s economy and society. They say that Billionaires like Elon Musk are throwing away money when they do things like this. They feel that this is another example of how out of balance our society is – too much money at the top, and not enough for people to meet basic needs, even for many who once saw themselves as “middle class.” And yet, going too far down that path can lead to error – as it did with Judas the Betrayer of Jesus.
Even so, they have a point: our society is out of balance.
In recent decades the laws and institutions of our land have been gradually warped to the point where it is almost impossible for people to escape – or even maintain – their current economic class, unless they are extremely wealthy. The scourge of the “1%” is very real and self defeating: the ability of the “1%” to maintain their wealth and station in society depends upon the acceptance of their station by the rest of us. The other 99% are willing to do so as long as they feel they themselves are getting a fair deal, and have a fair chance of bettering their own economic status. Revolutions happen when the majority of the population can not be certain of a stable life, and no longer believe they have any other way of escaping their current situation.
Even though I don’t expect riots to erupt nationwide any time soon, we are on a trajectory where they will inevitably happen – eventually. We are getting closer to that “tipping point” every day, and with every new attempt (by those with power in our nation’s capitol) to undermine the rights, protections, and freedoms that once made the USA the world’s greatest democracy. …And I’m not pointing my finger at just Republicans! Both parties are complicit in causing this to happen. And, both parties need to work together to fix the situation.
But, enough of that – back to Starman.
I remember dreaming of being an astronaut while watching the Apollo missions back in the late 60’s, and staying up late when I was only about 9 years old to watch Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin become the first men to walk on the moon. I was a huge fan of the original Star Trek series, and remember sitting on the couch alongside my Mother, watching the first season’s episodes on our little tiny black and white Television.
I had moon maps and star maps hanging everywhere in my bedroom. I was given little books with paper cutout models of the Apollo Command Module and Lunar Lander. After building them, they sat prominently on my bookcase. I saved up my allowance and newspaper boy money to buy a small telescope, then spent hours looking through it at the moon, planets and stars. I scrutinized every page of every Edmunds Scientific Company catalog looking for more cool stuff I could buy, and use, and learn about.
I had dreams – big dreams – to go to space myself one day. NASA astronauts were my heroes: bigger than life, their names would live forever. But, they were not like me: they were on a mountain top, very far away from a little boy growing up in small town America.
I had dreams, but dreams that eventually had to give way to reality. My weak eyes made it impossible to become a Navy Test Pilot – the surest way of getting into the Astronaut Corps back then. I then turned to Astronomy, and soon learned that there were far too few jobs, and most of them filled by folks just a little older than I was. People who’d had the same dreams at the start of the Space era, when they were entering college in the late 50’s and into the 60’s.
So, the dreams died, but new dreams replaced them. Dreams of career, travel, ministry, writing, marriage, family, children – among other things.
The dreams became smaller, but more realistic, and more attainable.
But is that a good thing? I’m not so sure.
The problem with the current economic and social imbalance in our society is that it robs people of their dreams, and it is dreams that we need to have hope for the future. Our dreams embody our hopes; but if there is no hope then all we have is our nightmares.
One thing that I think is very positive in Elon Musk’s Tesla Starman is that we find he has dreams, and that he wishes his dreams to be ours, too. He has taken a common thing – a car – and shown us that it can be a dream, a good dream. A dream of what can be in our futures – and a dream he hopes truly is in our mutual future.
So, should we reject his dream because it does not address the problems right in front of us?
No, we need to be able to aim for the stars again. We need a goal that lifts us above the pain and loss and walls that surround us in this world. We need to see that such a goal is possible – if not for us, then for our children.
The Tesla Starman – for all the fun and humor it is intended to inspire within us, is also a statement that there is a future: that it is good, and that it is achievable.
We need our dreams. And, we need to come together and care for each other – rich or poor, tall or small, white or black, since that is the only way to stop the nightmares.
Dream on, Starman.
– Pastor Allen
Copyright (c) 2018, Allen Vander Meulen III.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.