Thursday, August 18, 2005

Escape Velocity


    We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.

    John F. Kennedy, 9/12/1962

When was the last time that you felt completely satisfied and good about something? For me, and for most people I know, the greatest satisfaction is in successfully completing a difficult task. That success builds upon itself. It’s not in the mere completion of the task, per se, but the fact that you were able to summon the ability to do it. Maybe you had to learn a new skill. Maybe you had to expand upon an existing skill. Either way, you succeeded in something that you didn’t think was possible.

Conversely, I’ve had bad times in my life when I thought I was pretty worthless. In every instance, the thing that really got me out of the funk wasn’t my dad kicking my butt, my mom consoling me, or my friends encouraging me; it was ultimately my own will – reaching beyond my own preconceptions about who I was and what I was capable of.

Escape Velocity is the speed at which an object must be traveling to effectively counteract a planetary body’s gravitational field. Objects in motion tend to stay in motion. That is the concept of momentum. It works in rocket science. It also works in psychology, sociology and as a result, economics.

People reach success by momentum. Social groups solve difficult problems by momentum. Sports teams win games by momentum. Geopolitical groups win wars by force of momentum. Robust economies run on momentum.

A central premise of Conservative philosophy is that we are ALL capable of doing more than we think we can. The impression I get about the basic philosophy of Leftists (i.e. the strongest voices of the Democratic Party) is that the way to create a society full of ‘successful’ citizens is to inhibit those that are most successful in order to support those that are the least successful. Such a notion is detrimental to both parties. Not only are the most successful limited in what they can achieve, but the least successful never have the opportunity to experience what it is like to reach beyond their self-imposed limitations and begin building the self-supporting momentum of success.

But is it really that easy? Can the ills of society be cured simply by everyone reaching beyond their preconceived potential?

To answer those questions, I will ask these: how did we get to the moon? How did we defeat fascism in the 1940’s?

Consider JFK’s quote above. Viewed from the lens of 2005, it seems inconceiveable that a Democrat would propose such a costly and difficult program just as social concerns and civil rights were coming to the forefront of American politics and society. Wasn’t it more important to take care of poor people than to spend money on going to the moon? JFK understood the concept of Escape Velocity, both in rocket science and the momentum of personal success.

The Democratic party used to believe in human potential.
To my friends on the left: prove me wrong. Prove to me that the Democrats can build a successful society by uplifting everybody, not just by rewarding a few at the expense of some other few. Prove to me that Democrats can provide the leadership that makes us want to be better than we are.

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