My sister told me that one of our other sisters called her and was "practically bawling" over the space shuttle mishap. I told her that there was a similar response by someone in my household. I relayed to her something that I had once heard; that when we experience personal grief about an incident such as this one, or weep at certain scenes in a film, that such events act as an impetus for us to cry unshed tears over something that we are still holding onto, suppressed emotions that we have not allowed ourselves to feel and heal.
My sister, much to my surprise since she does not like to talk politics, said that what we should be crying about is all of the innocent people in Iraq who will be victims of our war on them. I rarely broach such subjects with my family after the door to my being a part of it was nearly closed after I voraciously began filling their e-mail inboxes with probable reasons why 9.11 happened. But when given the opportunity to discuss these issues, I take it as a sign that people are rousing from their 9.11 blind patriotic obedience, and are ready to be on the side of truth.
I passionately told her that I had similar feelings about this, that there is always sadness with loss of life, but that these astronauts were aware of the inherent risks of traveling through space in a metal canister.
I could feel my blood begin simmering as we continued our discussion. I knew that even though I had taken a step back from the intense level of activism that I had been angaged in, that my anger was still very much alive and not far beneath the surface.
Knowing that my sister's 16 year old son was convinced that the right thing to do for his country after 9.11 was to join the ranks of soldiers with a mission to "kick ass", I blurted out to her, "How in the hell is it an act of honor to go to another country and kill innocent people?"
I told her that there was talk of Bush dropping 800 missiles on Iraq in a two-day period. I continued with my tirade saying that our government boasts about the good deeds that we do in other countries, but that in reality we do not even take care of people in this one, that the number of homelessness and hungry americans swells - like their empty bellies - by the day. "Imagine", I told her, "how many people we could feed with those 800 missiles that will be raining down on and killing people".
I went on to tell her about Iraqi babies that are born with grotesque birth defects as a result of the depleted uranium littering Iraq from the Gulf War. She knew nothing about this, though was not surprised to learn of it. I, through choked anger, told her that there are hundreds of thousands of Gulf War Veterans who are sick and dying, who upon returning from the war reunited with their wives and girlfriends only to pass on the contagion to them and then went on to give birth to defected babies.
One of the first thoughts that I had after hearing about the space shuttle Columbia was, is this something that we should be doing, shuttling out of the earth into space? I know that this thought would meet with a great deal of disapproval by many, especially those in the scientific world that want to dissect the universe into understandable, precise and orderly compartments.
I think that our first mission must be to learn to respect and care for the earth and all of her inhabitants before we venture outside of it in search of new frontiers. We do not even understand what lies within our own. We are at odds with one another, we engage in barbaric behavior and fight and kill for what is not even ours. We commit ecocide with utter abandon and with no thoughts of tomorrow. Space travel plays a part in destroying the ozone layer, which is reason enough not to do it. There are no benefits that outweigh the gross negligence and wanton destruction of one planet in search of others.
However, I think that there is a genuine desire to journey through time and space. And we can do this, each of us, in the form of astral travel. We can achieve this through dreamtime and in meditatation. (Psychedelics can open windows when used ritually but cause an opposite effect when used habitually.)
Perhaps a force hurled this intrusive spaceship back to earth as a message to us that we are meddling with something that is not ours to meddle with. Maybe we are being told that our real work lies in learning about ourselves towards the ultimate goal of self-realization in which we will discover far greater mysteries of the universe. Think of the resources that we would save and the enlightenment that we could achieve. This is where the heart of real space travel resides.