Why We Need to Continue Exploring
Vasco de Gama, Prince Henry the Navigator, Christopher Columbus, Amerigo Vespucci, Ferdinand Magellan, Lewis and Clark, Edmund Hillary, Shackleton…. The list continues in both directions for a while and then suddenly stops with Neal Armstrong and his fellow explorers of our moon. As humans, we have always been curious. We yearn to discover the undiscovered. For centuries, we have adorned explorers- those among us who have the backbone to risk their lives to traverse a foreign land. So many things could go wrong, but they risk their lives in the name of exploration. Many have died because of their voyages – Balboa, Magellan, and Livingstone.
Young boys and girls used to revere explorers. These men were the namesake of their generation. Lewis and Clark became a household name after their perilous journey from Missouri to the Pacific Northwest. For centuries, even millennia, humanity has explored. Then suddenly, exploration of new worlds comes to a dead halt. After man set foot on the moon, humanity stopped flirting with adventure. We don’t hear of that brave group of young men and women who voyaged out to Mars or to the abysses of our own planet. We don’t hear of that man or woman who set off on his or her own to discover new planets.
Is our thirst for exploration quenched? Do we think that everything that needs to be explored has been explored? Has exploration lost its sexiness to innovation? After all when we think of the 21st century, we don’t think of it as an Age of Exploration. It’s an age of innovation. Our generation is marked with breakthroughs in technology like personal computers, the iPad, HDTV, and medicine.
We need to continue to explore. Perhaps, people don’t take the risk because they don’t have the capital. When we think of exploring space, the first thing that comes to mind is NASA. Our governments are the ones who have the sheer capital to build billion dollar spacecraft and risk their failure. But when we think of true explorers like Magellan and Columbus, it was their initiative that made them venture into the unknown. They went to the ruling figures of the time and asked, even begged for money. Why don’t we go and grovel in front of President Obama or Congress for funds to build a spacecraft that can travel to Pluto? It’s because we live in a conformist society. We don’t take risks or do anything out of the norm because we are happy with how or lives are.
I don’t want to live in a society where young boys and girls can’t dream of travelling outside our own solar system. People like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg are great idols but I don’t want to live in a time when the stories of men who survived nearly two years stranded in Antarctica and the sheer joy of knowing humanity has conquered a new land no longer exist.