Psychiatrist Dr. Pat Santy, of the must-read blog Dr. Sanity, has a very moving post covering her personal reminiscence of the space shuttle Challenger disaster that occurred on January 28, 1986. Tomorrow marks the 19th anniversary of the tragedy. Read the whole thing. It will bring tears to your eyes.
The following passage excerpted from her post particularly caught my eye:
I watched NASA cope with this disaster using a combination of denial and intellectualization/rationalization. In the months that followed, I began to realize that the Agency I had idealized for so long as being one of the best and most competent, was actually corrupt and primarily concerned with covering its own mistakes. They were an Agency caught up in hubris, who believed in their own press far too much. Instead of making the changes in the culture that had led to this catastrophe, they were only concerned with making sure everyone thought they had made the changes. The appearance was more important than the reality. I had been a general flight surgeon before, and now, for the first time, I began to look at NASA with a psychiatrist's eyes. And what I saw disturbed me greatly. Especially in the way they handled the fact that the crew had NOT died in the explosion as we all had thought, but were alive for some time as they fell into the ocean. I watched as they tried to hide that fact. I also watched as they carried out the motions of changing, but from the inside I saw no changes.
How I wish that our governmental agencies did not feel the need to lie to us! We should have been told the painful truth and Dr. Santy's medical ministrations should NOT have been impeded by bureaucrats trying to cover their backsides and put a spin on the events for public consumption.
However, rising up from the sorrow of the tragedy, Dr. Santy closes her post with these positive, forward-looking, and inspirational thoughts:
I remember the Challenger and her crew frequently and with love. They are a part of me now. All of them represent the best within the American spirit, and always will. Since that day in 1986, I have come to see NASA as one of the greatest impediments to the Dream of space exploration; but I have never given up the Dream itself. Nor have I forgotten any of the pioneers who have died in the service of that Dream. Some day we humans will leave this small planet and joyfully play in all the corners of the cosmos.
I eagerly look forward to it.
Albert Camus wrote in Le Mythe de Sisyphe (Gallimard, 1942), "La lutte elle-même vers les sommets suffit à remplir un cœur d'homme. Il faut imaginer Sisyphe heureux." Translation: "The struggle itself towards the summits suffices to fill a man's heart; it is necessary to imagine Sisyphus happy."
To which I might add:
Sisyphus happy and Tantalus sated?
Dream on, philosopher, dream on!
Was damnation why Adam's dust was created?
This is the question our fate hangs upon.
From "The Twist of the Knife" © 2004 All Rights Reserved
It would be a lot easier for us to imagine Sisyphus happy if it weren't for all those who are continually endeavoring to kick or pry the stone from his hands and send it rolling back down to the bottom. . .
You've been told and NOW YOU KNOW.