40th Anniversary of the Moon Landing
July, 1969, I was living in a small mountain village called Cana Tyatyaneng in Lesotho, Africa. I learned the language there. I remember hearing the news about the moon landing and Neil Armstrong’s famous “A small step..” speech on a small battery transistor radio shivering in the winter cold of Southern hemisphere under the cover of a duvet. I remember the mixed feeling I had. I still have it. I don’t want to spoil the excitement, but something stops me being over-joyed about it.
1969 was the third year of drought in Southern Africa, the crop failed again that year and people were starving. Even my $92 a month missionary stipend was embarrassingly 10 times the average income of a villager. I don’t know how much money was spent on “Man on the Moon” project. But I can safely say that it was at least several times more than the annual GDP of the whole country of Lesotho. I was not angry. Like most Americans, I was happy about the great achievement. It was a mixed feeling when you hear about something like that surrounded by poor starving people.
I went back to visit old friends in Lesotho last year. The situation was not much different. There was now a road and electricity (which not many people could afford). There was still only one village communal tap for water. I know it could be corruption and bad governance that keep people poor. But I don’t blame them for being angry. We were angry to hear about an average income of an executive of an investment bank that failed and got bail-out with our tax money. It is 400 times the income of an ordinary employee of such a bank.
I guess the anniversary of “Moon Landing” calls for a celebration. But while we promote scientific advancement and celebrate its achievement, we should also spend equal amount of energy and money to find the way to eliminate poverty and alienation. Maybe there is a good reason to make that a part of “War on Terror.”