Our NEW Manifest Destiny
A Commentary by J. D. Longstreet
Recently, I was staring at a beautiful night sky above my Carolina home and wondering, just as I did as a wee lad, what the dickens is out there?
The tantalizing flickering of the stars and the never blinking glow of the planets still thrills me today just as it did so many decades ago. That velvet blackness punctuated by portals of sparkling light ignites a yearning deep within that part of me where lies my soul.
I long for a New World. No, I haven’t slipped a cog, at least -- I don’t think I have. Follow along here, for a while, and then determine if I make any sense to you.
In the 16th and 17th centuries Europe had become a hell hole. At least for the independent, tough-minded individualist who was lucky, or unlucky, enough to find himself, or herself, living there. They began to long for a place to which they could migrate and live their lives the way they wanted to. It wasn’t long until the Spanish and the Dutch began to colonize a place few common people even knew about. Some place called “The New World”.
Problem for the nobility was… you couldn’t keep a secret like that for long. Soon word leaked out and quickly spread all across Europe. There WAS a “new world” out there… far across the storm tossed Atlantic. Eyes began to turn westward. That old longing to seek out whatever lay on the other side of the hill began to resurface in the hearts and minds of European men and women.
As it happened, European governments wishing to colonize the new world needed, well, people, to become colonists. Not just anyone would do. The would be colonist had to be strong of mind and will, self sufficient, and as close to fearless as was possible. Otherwise, they would not even survive the ocean crossing let alone survive the hazards of carving out a new home in the vast wilderness of the New World.
The long and the short of it is… they came…. the strong, the stubborn, the fearless, and the independent. They flocked to the new world in any way they could. They made deals we wouldn’t think of making today to ensure passage to the new world. Some even sold themselves into slavery as Indentured Servants just to get across that ocean and onto the shores of the New World… where a man or a woman could live up to their potential. One thing was uppermost in their minds. That was freedom to live the way they wanted, longed, to live.
Look, if one had been building a herd of animals one could not have asked for better breeding stock. And breed they did. They built this New World into the engine of the earth. Over 4 centuries they out built and out produced any other part of the planet.
But the part of the new world we call America has “plateaued out”. The ancestors of those dauntless colonists are, today, looking for a New World. Someplace to go, someplace to which they can migrate and live up to their potential just as their ancestors did centuries ago. Problem is, there is nowhere on earth we can go to colonize and create a new society.
But… just as the seafaring mariners of five centuries ago brought back tantalizing stories of the new world and new lands on the other side of the Atlantic, so have the modern day mariners… the astronauts. We have tasted but a trifling morsel of what lies in store for humans in the vast reaches of space. There lies New World after New World, a cornucopia of new, unspoiled, worlds to tame and make productive. And some of us are chomping at the bit to get started!
Yes, it is a New Manifest Destiny. Man MUST look to, and MUST go to, the stars. It is our destiny. It is what we humans do. We have reached our limits here on Earth, so now we must stretch out into the myriad of worlds awaiting our arrival.
The sad thing is, we should already be there. Curbing America’s space program, after the visits to our moon, was the biggest mistake the US has ever made. History will prove the sagacity of that statement.
While our space program is nearly 4 decades behind where it should be today, we have no choice but to gear up, suck it up, pay the price, and get back on track… as soon as is humanly possible.
I am convinced Man’s Destiny lies out there, among the stars. Some even speculate that man originated out there someplace. If so, we will simply be going home! To Paraphrase: “Be it ever more majestic, there is no place like home”!
© J. D. Longstreet