Right now, I am watching season 2 of the Apple TV series For All Mankind, which is about an alternative reality where the Soviet Union won the moon race and how that causes the space race between the USA and USSR to continue. Giant moon bases and more powerful rockets are the result.
Risks get taken. Rockets blow up or fly out of control, planes crash, cosmonauts get shot.
But the original space race itself was an interesting story in itself, even though the reality of the Cold War and the 1973 economic crisis meant that funding did cause it to taper off after the Apollo missions.
Several brave men did die, some in horrible circumstances, in the course of the real space race. And the near disaster of Apollo 13 illustrated both the courage and the enterprise of the people who put men on the moon.
Courage is what is needed to reach the moon. You need to be brave to take such risks.
I am talking about the long lost era around the time when I was born, some 3 1/2 months before men first walked on the moon. Times have changed
Everyday life requires that people take risks. We choose to cross the road, or to walk outside in a storm, to eat that Big Mac or that extra slice of pizza, or to open a second bottle of not-so-fine red wine, or to date someone who we really know will not make us happy in the long run.
Or to take a flu shot….
Which is a good way of shifting from Astronauts to AstraZeneca. Due to a very small statistical incidence of blood clots (a single digit number per million), the Australian government and its medical experts have changed their recommendations on the AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid, and the subsequent knock on effect is going to cause a delay in the vaccination of hundreds of thousands of people. Similar decisions are being made in Europe.
I would wryly observe that perhaps the risk of getting a blood clot from this vaccine is significantly lower statistically then the risk of contracting a particularly unpleasant variation of Covid. And no, the vaccine is not going to make you autistic either.
But we have forgotten how to take risks – not just in the courageous things that mark the greater nobility of Mankind, like the moon landings, but in the banal everyday things we need to do to just continue to survive, like take vaccinations or to generally live our lives free of fear. And not only have we forgotten our courage as a society, but our elected leaders have totally lost theirs.