The Common Good

Bombing the Moon? Really?

There's a joke that re-surfaces in Indian country every so often. It goes like this: When NASA was preparing for the Apollo project, it did some astronaut training near the Navajo Indian reservation.

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One day, a Navajo elder and his son came across the space crew. The old man, who spoke only Navajo, asked a question that his son translated. "What are these guys in the big suits doing?" A member of the crew said they were practicing for their trip to the moon. The old man got very excited and asked if he could send a message to the moon with the astronauts.

Recognizing a promotional opportunity, the NASA folks found a tape recorder. After the old man recorded his message, they asked his son to translate it. He refused. They then took the tape to the reservation, where many from the rest of the tribe listened and laughed but refused to translate the elder's message to the moon.

Finally, the NASA crew called in an official government translator. He reported that the message said, "Watch out for these guys. They have come to steal your land."

While the joke's implications are sadly true, perhaps what makes it humorous to me is the fact that the moon belongs to everyone, so how could any one people claim it as theirs? In fact, I think this is much the same attitude that our Native American ancestors had when the Europeans began "negotiating" for our land. And today, I have the same feeling as I hear America is going to bomb the moon in search of water. Really? By the time you read this, it will have happened.

It seems the more things change, the more they stay the same. The same hubris that allowed those Euro-American ancestors to claim America as "theirs" is still at work. This time it is on the moon and "on behalf of science." Wasn't science somehow involved in that whole "discovery" thing? Chilling! America's unilateralism has perhaps reached an all-time high -- all the way to the moon! How is it our right to "bomb the moon?" I wonder if any of the other 6 billion people on the planet who share the moon have an opinion of this? I wonder if the Creator has an opinion?

The writer of Psalm 8 certainly did, and I'm asking a similar question.

When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers-
the moon and the stars you set in place-
what are mere mortals that you should think about them,
human beings that you should care for them? Psalm 8:3,4 NLT

God help us all

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