Messages on the Moon From a World Turned Upside Down

Messages of peace from exiled leaders of countries beneath Soviet occupation had been poignant. Anatols Dinbergs of Latvia spoke of how the moon touchdown would contribute to the “restoration of freedom to all nations.”

However the phrases of dictators allied with the US felt distinctly much less principled. Chiang Kai-shek of the Republic of China and Park Chung-hee of South Korea, who each freely employed torture and homicide to take care of management, presumed to talk for his or her captive populations in lofty platitudes, invoking “world utopia” and “justice, freedom, and unity” with little irony.

Nonetheless, a totalitarian chief would often betray his nature, as when Joseph-Désiré Mobutu of Congo (earlier than he was often called Mobutu Sese Seko) claimed the mission of the Apollo 11 astronauts as his personal, which he described as “the conquest of space in order to make man its master.” (The widespread use of the metaphor of conquest for a mission of peace appeared to strike few leaders on the time as discordant.)

President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz of Mexico seemed to historical past for classes relevant for the event. “In 1492, the discovery of the American Continent transformed geography and the course of human events,” he stated, after which drew a parallel between that occasion and the “conquest of ultraterrestrial space.” It’s chilling, to say the least, to see the tens of thousands and thousands who inhabited pre-Columbian America and their historic civilizations erased to be able to justify a comparability to the lifeless moon. Not solely would future pictures of Earth be skewed, so would historical past.

(Talking of individuals on the moon, President William V. S. Tubman of Liberia had some speculations, asking the astronauts “to bear this message to the inhabitants of the Moon if they find any there.”)

At present, these messages, usually eloquent and provoking, but additionally self-serving, bombastic, shortsighted and outdated, remind us how troublesome it’s to disentangle the messy current from the aspirational future, to separate the conclusion of the potential of the human spirit from the necessity to appease much less noble motivations.

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Ken Liu

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