Priorities

I have mixed feeling on Shuttle Atlantis’ mission to repair the Hubble telescope.

On one hand, I think it’s amazing what we’ve seen through the photographs taken by the satellite. You want to talk about God’s awesome creation? Browse some Hubble images on Yahoo! or Google, and you will see just how creative God is. I think there’s still a lot we can learn through these pictures, and I think that eventually we’ll have a more accurate grasp on time and space through this (the present conceptions are fine for now, but I think they fall short in many ways and will need some major overhauls in the next 50 years). Through things like this, we not only advance human knowledge, but we come closer to God. The more we learn, the more we realize we don’t truly understand (regardless of what the Associated Press says). But as awesome as all this is, is it worth it? The estimated cost of the Hubble telescope in total is $10 billion. That’s a lot of dough.

And here is why my feelings are so mixed. To provide everyone on this planet with clean drinking water is estimated to cost, can you guess?, $10 billion. That’s it. One satellite gone and the water problem would be solved. Of course, I don’t think it’s NASA’s job to fix the world’s issues. But it puts things in perspective a bit. We’re eager to point out the obvious mistakes (like spending $450 billion on Christmas every year or the automakers taking massive bonuses at the expense of the country), but its not as easy to ask if we’re being good stewards of this life. Let’s say we put the Hubble off for 20 years, we had never launched it in 1990, and put that money to solve the water issue? What would we lose? Could we not launch the Hubble now? Would we be behind in any real significant way?

Its not easy to convince the world that people come before knowledge, particularly when we still so clearly value “stuff” and material possessions over people. Its sad that our priorities are out of whack in so many ways. Its sad that my priorities are messed up too. In the end, I appreciate the Hubble for what it is. But I wonder why we expect one area of our lives to be lived more responsibly when other areas of our lives aren’t? Consumerism in the individual will be more likely to change if those whom we take are cues from change the way they spend money. Change in government is usually top down. But revolutions start at the bottom I guess. So who will make the first move?

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