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Earthward Implications of Cosmic Migration

Before I many of you know the person you're sitting next to? You need to know each other; you have a common interest and, hopefully, a common goal, to see, and to be a part of, the beginning of humanities journey to the stars. Take a moment to introduce yourself and shake hands.

I'm here today to talk about the power of the vision (or image of the future) to shape the future, and to transform the present as well. The power that the vision has to move us toward a future that not only includes the exploration and settlement of outer space, but the preservation of our civilization, the Earth and its ecology.

From other comments presented at this conference I have been affirmed in my belief that if we hope to convince others that we must accept the challenge of the "High Frontier," then we must share our vision of the future that includes humanity in space. The knowledge we have is important, it affirms our vision and tells us of our progress towards it. But, until others accept the vision, until their perception is changed, they will not accept the knowledge. Knowledge not consistent with a present belief system will be ignored.

As space "hobbyists" we delight in discussing the methods and the means for us to be able to live and work in space. If we are of a practical bent, we spend hours contemplating how we can make it happen, what resources we need at our disposal, what "leaps" in technology we need to make it practical, and when it may become feasible to have a working space station, or a self-sufficient moon base, a scientific "outpost" on Mars. If we are dreamers, we see huge space settlements at L5 points, settlements on Mars and exploration vessels to the outer planets, even the beginning of plans for our first trip to the stars. Our plans and dreams may differ in scope, but we agree on one thing, humanity is destined to explore and settle outer is only a matter of time.

Do you wonder when it will happen? How long will it take until we are in space? Will any of us have the chance to see the Earth through the window of a space ship? Will any of us even see the beginning of a serious effort to explore and settle space out to the orbit of our moon, let alone as far as Mars or the asteroid belt? What needs to happen to turn this dream of space into a reality, one that we will live to see realized?

If we are to succeed we will need the financial and emotional commitment of a significant percentage of society? People who are worried about paying the rent, or wondering if they can afford a new car, or concerned about a loved one ill with a disease or injury, others who are speaking out against oil drilling along the Florida coast or the cutting of ancient stands of redwoods in the forests of Northern California...these people are going to have to believe that the space effort is a first level priority, that their deepest concerns will be aided by our efforts in space, that the Earth will be a better place to live as humanity accepts the destiny we believe in and that as we turn toward the stars we will also find solutions to many of the problems that are multiplying on this Earth.

It is my belief that if we hope to convince others to accept and support the challenge of the "high frontier," then we must share our vision of a future that includes not only humanity in space, but a better life for the majority of people who will choose to remain on the Earth. It is not enough for us to share the facts and figures that support the space effort, or to remind those, who have other priorities, what the space effort has already provided in the area of scientific or technological advancement. The facts and figures that we have are important, they affirm our vision and tell us of our progress toward it. But, until others accept the vision, until their perception is changed, they will not hear and they will not understand. One of the truths of the human condition is that knowledge inconsistent with a present belief system is ignored, and all the proof in the world will not convince the person who isn't able, or doesn't want to, to believe.

I have chosen not to use any visual aids today because I want each of you to be free to create for yourself your own visions of the future, free from any conceptions or images I may have.

Now, let's take a moment to remember the future. I want you to remember, or create, within your own mind, your vision of the Apollo legacy. Let's start slowly by looking 20 years ahead. What you're looking for is your most optimistic, challenging vision. Think of specific goals you see accomplished because of the space effort. Because your vision needs to include a place for those whose priorities are focused on the Earth and its needs, consider developments that relate directly to the earth, cheap energy, an end to pollution, or food enough for all, and also developments in space, a working space station, a Martian landing, or mining the moon.

Turn to your new friend or friends around you and take a moment to share what you believe will be the most significant developments that will result from a serious space effort within the next 20 years. Use the index cards and pencils supplied, to list those you believe to be most important. We will collect them and share this collective vision with the decision makers in our society.

Now, let's take the big jump, let your mind go free and create for yourself a vision of the ultimate potential. What will be the ultimate impact on humanity, the Earth and those living on it if we all (spacers and earthlings) commit to this future. How will we live? How far can we go? How much can we discover? How much will we learn? Where might we live?

Again, turn to your friends and share this ultimate vision and then, record it on the cards so that it might also be shared with us, and through us with people who want to know what you think...what you dream.

Now that you have that vision, now that you know it will be shared with others, let me ask you, what are you going to do with it? Visions are created to be shared, from one person to another, from a believer (an apostle) to a seeker. I want to show you how and why this vision is important. Once you know this you will have a very effective tool for creating a future that includes humanity in space.

The future of our society is dependent on our hopes, expectations and images of it. We can increase the possibility of a more positive future by developing and nurturing positive visions and images of it. F. L. Polak in his book Images of the Future said, "Human society and culture are being magnetically pulled towards a future fulfillment of their own idealistic images of the future, as well as being pushed from behind by their own realistic past." Our thoughts and beliefs of what the future will be like can move us toward that future and help to create and affect the present.
While a strong, positive vision of the future does lead to confidence, I'm not talking only about a confidence in the future. Confidence is a reaction to a belief about the coming short term future, next month or next year. No, what I'm talking about is a people's response to a vision of what the future can be. A image of a future that is as far reaching and challenging as any of the great visions of the past, the type of vision that moves a society and the people within it. When the people begin to believe a vision of this magnitude everything is changed and the world is never the same again.

O. W. Markley of the Stanford Research Institute said, "The development of our societies has been in large part dependent on the creative vision of the great members of the human race, and of the images of the future of the important cultures throughout history." Malachi Martin, a Jesuit priest and student of why societies succeed or fail, in his book The New Castle said, "The greatest heights of culture and civilization were always fashioned, not within the molds of sociological cause and effect, but within a transcendent vision." Finally, the late Ed Lindaman, a past director of program planning for the design and manufacture of the Apollo Spacecraft and President of Whitworth College in Spokane, Washington said, "The believer not only interprets history but, above all, he changes it, because he believes, because he hopes."

The vision, or image of the future is a society's conception or belief in a time that is yet to come. It can be either positive or negative, but, in either case, it must be an exaggeration of what would be reasonably expected. It is either a hope or a fear that lives in the minds of the societal group, both collectively and individually. When the image of the future is projected clearly it is leading the society into a future that is truly their conception of tomorrow. It is a promise of what the future will be like within the life time of the society. It is the hope of what that future can be like within my lifetime. In other words, the society expects to see the actualization of the vision; the individuals within the society believe they will play a part in the realization of the vision, and they, as individuals, hope to live to see it happen.

Citizens react to the image of the future as if it were already here and, therefore, act in a purposeful way that is directed toward this future's goals and expectations. It is through shared dreams and beliefs that these visions operate, humankind acts Polak says, "...through...enthusiasm, through the pulsating dynamic of ideas." The power to compel the dramatic movement of events in culture through time lies with us as we are moved to act by our vision of the future. Polak says, "History does not unfold by itself but evolves through man's evolving."

Malachi Martin too believes in the power of the image of the future. In his book he speaks of the image of the future as a vision of the "Castle." Different people and different societies throughout history have experienced this vision of the future, of a better world, a world where anything and everything was possible. The Castle was their vision of that ideal state.

For example, there was an obscure Semite nomad, named Abraham, who was the first witness of the Jewish vision and the patriarch of the major religions of the western world. The power of his vision has lasted for over 5000 years.

How many of you have seen the desert around Salt Lake City, Utah? I don't know how you feel, but I have never seen one more desolate. The legends say there were only seven trees in that whole valley when Brigham Young chose it as the site for the Morman community. They had no money and very little material goods. Most of them didn't even have horses. But they did have a vision, a vision of a city by the shores of the Great Salt Lake. Only seven years after the first person stepped foot in that area, the foundation to the temple was being laid; and today we have Salt Lake City, Utah, a thriving, green and well planned city, a jewel in the desert.

There have been many visions that have shaped the history and future of our world including the "American dream" that is just slightly over 200 years old. Each of these cultures was/is being driven by a vision, a vision that began with a few people and spread throughout the society, shaping the future and transforming the present.

Did you hear me just now? Did you hear me say "transforming the present?" Does our image of the future effect the present too? Why else do we pay money for life insurance, build bomb shelters, open savings accounts, take a new job, return to school, research solar energy, or come to a space conference.

If someone has so little faith in himself that he gets tattooed with the words "Born to Lose," do you think that that image will affect the way he lives his life?

Today we're hearing alot about people being "born again." They talk about accepting Christ as their savior and how they have been forgiven and are free to start again and build a new life. Has their image of themselves and their future been changed, and has this affected their lives?

The vision does not operate in some other dimension, magically changing the present and, therefore, creating the future. No, it works in the attitudes and energy of the individuals holding the vision, changing the way we think, changing the way we work, changing our priorities immediately. As the vision begins to take hold, decisions are made differently, investments are made in a different way, affecting others who then, also begin to do things differently. This attitude spreads, and very rapidly the socio-economic health of the society is improved and wealth is created, created not through the accumulation of riches, but through the productivity of the people.

The images that have the greatest effect, are those images that are positive, challenging, and goal oriented. What image is more positive, more challenging, and more goal oriented than the image of the destiny of humanity to discover, explore, and settle the universe. It is up to each of us to spread this image; our government and institutions cannot lead us on this great adventure into the infinite frontier. They, by their nature, only mirror ideas and feelings that already exist in society. If we are going to create a new vision, then it must grow within each of us. It must grow from the fertile soil composed of strong confident individuals exercising their free voice within the community to work for the future we see as our destiny, to create and share the vision we have of a nation, a world, a universe that we would like to live in.

Let me repeat the basic concept here. The vision you have has the potential of transforming our society. It only needs to be shared with the same fervor you have for it, by a significant minority of America's citizens. You control the means by which it is shared. Yes, I challenge you to more than advocacy, I challenge you to become an apostle for your vision, an evangelist, even a fanatic, and to share it with others who will listen, who will be convinced, and who will become apostles too.

Live your life true to your vision, voice concern when you feel it, give hope when it is needed, convert all you can to the cause by helping them to see the vision too. There are enough of us who feel this way to begin to spread the word, to begin to share the vision; our combined voices can play a significant role in shaping the future. What is needed now is individual commitment, the numbers will follow.

God has given us the spirit worthy of the challenges that He sets for us and we set for ourselves. He has given us the knowledge we need to find our way, so that the results of our reaching will lead to the betterment of life here and now. As a people, both individually and collectively, we can move forward into a new day that has been shaped by the combined minds of millions of individuals concentrating on this positive future. We must speak of the power to make of the Earth, the birthplace of humanity, a garden again as we accept the challenge to explore and settle the greatest frontier of all time, the infinite frontier, the universe itself.

To end, I'd like you to take an imaginary trip with me. I'd like each of you to think about a time when you visited an historical site, like Jerusalem or Boston, Sutter's Fort, Gettysburg, or maybe Kitty Hawk, any place of an historical beginning. Think about the people who lived then and how they felt about the events that took place there. Go ahead, I'll wait for a minute....

Now, imagine that you're in a classroom or lecture hall in a city on a planet 25 light years from the Earth. The year is 2522 (about 500 years in the future) and the instructor has just asked the class to identify the original world of the human race. A holographic map of the galaxy appears in the air at the center of the class. You raise your hand. The instructor nods at you, and, using the joystick attached to your desk computer, you move a "flying pointer" through the stars of the galaxy to identify Sol, the sun around which the original planet Earth revolves.

The instructor congratulates you, touches a button on her chair and the hologram view zooms into this single star. You see the ten planets as they revolve in their orbits around it. Again, she looks at you and says, "which of these planets is the Earth?"

You point to the third plant from the sun, and again the view zooms in. Before you is a brilliant jewel of a world. A world with a magnificent single moon, almost a twin planet system. The beauty of this world takes your breath away. You and the rest of the class have, of course, seen many pictures of the Earth, but you never fail to feel a sense of awe and deep reverence whenever you look at it.

After a moment of silence the instructor speaks to the class:

It was only a little over five and a half centuries ago that humanity first stepped off of the planet Earth and onto another world. That world was the Earth's only moon, and looking back, the step seems to be a small one, only 200,000 plus miles, just a little over what light travels in one second. But remember, until that time (for over 100,000 years) humanity was not able to leave that world; it did not have the knowledge or the means. That moment was the most important moment in our history, the time when it became possible to explore beyond the surface of that single planet, to realize our destiny of bringing life to cold empty worlds, to live in the universe.

What a time to have been alive! What I wouldn't give to have been there on the Earth at that time. Just think of the adventure, the vision, the sense of destiny that must have existed....

The instructor goes on, but the rest of the class is lost in her basic question...What was it like to have been alive when humanity first set foot on another world? What was it like to have been alive when humanity first set out to explore and settle the universe?

Those are the feelings and thoughts that countless generations will have as they think back to the second half of the twentieth century and wonder how it felt to live during that special moment in history when humanity took that first step off Mother Earth and onto another world.

As Mecca is to the Muslim and Jerusalem is to the Christian and Jew, so the Earth will be to future generations of humanity, the place from which we sprang, the holiest of holies for all time.

Copyright 1979, by Brad Fregger