Saturday, 18 July 2009

Remebering Apollo 11

The 40th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing is upon us. 40 years ago tomorrow the lunar module landed on the moon and a few hours later Armstrong and Aldrin left the Eagle, lowering themselves to the planet surface. Man had taken the first few baby steps in our exploration of the solar system.

I have vague memories of sitting in a freezing cold pre-fabricated school classroom listening on the radio to.... Well until I did a bit of research today I thought I must have been listening to Armstrong and Aldrin taking those first tentative steps on the moon and uttering those famous words, 'one small step.....'

But by my reckoning school wouldn't have started for the day when the Eagle landed and by the time the astronauts left the lunar module for their moonwalk I would have been on my way home.

At this distance I am no longer sure what I was listening to along with my classmates. I am pretty sure that we were listening to something to do with the moon landing but I can no longer remember which part of that great enterprise it was. Might even have been the splashdown for all I know.

Not that it really matters. However, until this morning if anyone had asked me I would have sworn that I had witnessed, albeit on the radio, along with millions of others man's first landing on the moon.

Strange how our memories play tricks on us at times and how we can believe implacably in something that can easily be proved to been an untruth. While I have just amply shown I am as fallible as the next man I never cease to wonder how many people simply refuse to face up to a truth when it is staring them in the face.

One of the great untruths of course is that god or his equivalent depending on where you live on the planet and the institutions you were brought up in created the world and then sent us prophets with a list of rules to live by.

I take the view that clever men created the mostly good rules that societies like the one I live in use as a general foundation for the way we behave and interact with our fellow citizens in order to do just that. To give us rules to live by and as a way of explaining all that that was inexplicable without the benefit of modern science and technology.

Somewhere along the line other clever but far more devious men worked out and continue to use religion as a way to enforce their will on others in the same way that any other petty despot does. Unlike the simple tyrant religious leaders have a ready made audience of blindly faithful followers. The poorer the nation, the more ignorant and uneducated the people are, the greater the opportunity there is to pursue political power and control in the name of religion and at the expense of basic human rights and freedoms.

And that is the way it happens. Those countries or the people in poorer parts of countries dominated by fundamental religious fanatics are poor and ignorant. If the west wants to reduce the spectre of international terrorism we would be better served spending massively on aid not armaments and drag some of these medieval states and regions into the modern world. Easier said than done when some of the most rabid fanatics live in the backwoods of the world's only current superpower.

One of the untruths in my life. Well lets be honest here, one of my many, fantasies now that thecoach of the All Blacks is no longer likely to call on me to fill the gap on the open side flank in the final of the World Cup, is that I am a great dirtbike rider and a better video editor.

The truth of course is that I am a middling rider and editor. But like faith in ones religion it is a harmless though fulfilling pass time and I get satisfaction from being the chief camera mount and the hours spent editing the footage.

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