Funny but true, when I was a kid, I so wanted to be an astronaut. I suppose that for the kid my age, the image of astronauts in their silver suits sitting in front of multi-color panel must have looked super cool. You have to be the brightest of the bright in order to be the few among the whole humanity to travel where no man has ever been to. However, after I have discovered my inability to understand Physics, that Thailand just sent its first satellite into space when I was in high-school, and after having watched 2001:
The Space Odyssey and found out that being an astronaut means having to exercise by running on the boring looking circle track and live on a quiet ship with very few other human for a very long time, my desire just burned out. For me, my childish dream was not powerful enough to make me overcome my own limited calculation ability and my country’s very late development in space program.
Even more ironically, after having witnessed a few space shutters’ explosions, I came to doubt the worthiness of space development. To put it bluntly, the money put into space development programs could and should have saved millions who have died of famine during the past century. Why waste trillions of dollars on the search of something so unpredictable when development on some areas that can directly rescue humanity is underfunded?
Apparently, more people are having the same doubts as I do. NASA’s struggle to raise more funds in the era that the idea of man on the moon is not so exciting anymore is a good proof of how development in space is receiving less priority. However, having heard the arguments from my scientist friends that without such a long-term, high-concept development in science, human’s culture and evolution as the dominant specie on this planet will cease to develop, my perception on the issue, once again, shifted.
Should it shut itself from outer space by halting scientific research on space, our planet will be just like Burma and China’ s during the period after the 2nd world war, ignorant of outer changes and thus left behind in the system of the universe. Scientists pursuing space development may be a dreamer, but it is these dreamers who over the years have been responsible for making us evolve, making us learn and grow because they are the ones who dare to take the risks and put all their life’s effort and energy to prove that their dream can materialize. After all, as the wise said, those who have no dream, have nothing.
Well, after taking in the scientists argument, I feel that after I have lost my youth, my ability to dream is drastically limited and I have became one of those short-sighted, unimaginative people with vision that goes only as far as the bottom line of their budget book. In the end, the scientists who try to prove things objectively end up being the biggest dreamer when it comes to issues concerning space.
The problem that I then want to ask is to what extent we should compromise the resources that should be used to solve our current problems to be utilized to pursue these dreams, as both sides have its own arguments and importance. Indeed, what we need is the model that can narrow gap and reach more understanding on both sides’ stance. It is hard, of course, to make it the positive sum game. Some suggestions would be to adapt the technology used in space development to solve other world’s problems, making the space development be more reachable and beneficial, and promote the benefits of reaching out and develop our world’s culture as a whole, basically to normal people and those economists.
The question about the right balance is always the most importance and the most difficult one. The way to reach the balance as suggested by Japan’s greatest animator, Hayao Miyazaki, is, in my opinion worth looking at. I will try to cover the basic ideas behind some of his animations in my next additions. For now, I suggest those who are interested in this subject to watch the movie “Contact” as it made strong argument for the side of those dreamer scientists. Perhaps watching it will bring back the dreamer spirit inside all of us.
The philosophical message in Miyazaki’s animations, to some extent, can help answer this question. In his three fantasy animations, namely, Miyazaki has emphasized exciting and diverse stories under one main theme. All the worlds in these animations are highly developed in some aspects; those futuristic areas possess high technology and exist in contradiction to the undeveloped, wild world, usually those that cling to nature represented by either the world of insects, animals, or half-ruined utopia empire where only plants survived. The sophisticated believes that the development in sciences, the pursuit of the dream, is the answer, but those undeveloped believes that the harmony with nature, the inward looking and solving day-to-day problem is the way to go.
The distribution of resources is always imbalance; the developed are consuming more and more resources and getting more and more threatening to the undeveloped world who getting fiercer as their place and position in the world hierarchy is being endangered. Miyazaki further predicts that should the imbalance continue, a clash like the one will emerge and will result in a new balance, either the coexistence of the two worlds under some compromises (like the aftermath in ), or if the result is devastating, a new world which the conflicting actors were destroyed and what is left is the pure nature and some form of harmonized technology (like the deserted Laputa Kingdom).
In any way, a new balance will be reached, and those who brought about the balance will be those who do not belong to any side, those with the eyes clear enough to compromise the conflicting coexistence with not too much pains on any sides. Often, the balancers are children, member of the sophisticated but not yet consumed by the value of the world and the one who has deep interest in the undeveloped (in this case, animal sand insects). Well, in the matter of allocating resources between space and other needs, or any allocating decision at all, instead of giving the role of the decider to each side (scientists who are on the sophisticated side or the economists and po9liticians on the )