Looking back and hoping for a better future

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We know from experience that if we happen to get something right in predicting the future it's just a lucky shot. It may be fun, but it's not rocket science. And so, let's look back. It's nearly as murky as looking toward tomorrow but we have some known person or event to focus on.

The past is murky because people tend to spin stories for one reason or another. Usually it's to make ourselves look good, not stupid or guilty or any of a dozen traits that we may not recognize in ourselves. Inaccuracy can also be from lack of tangible evidence. Some wag said, "The past ain't what it used to be," after some new evidence surfaced.

The anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy is a good example of historical uncertainty. One myth is that Oswald couldn't have got off as many rounds in the time available to him. He must have had an accomplice. I trained as a sniper in the 1940s to get ten rounds off in ten seconds with a single shot Cooey. I had to put ten bullet holes inside a paper target shaped like a man's torso. I earned my crossed rifles badge, but thankfully never had to test my skill in real life.

No accomplice was necessary to kill the president.

The anniversary of the Gettysburg Address was celebrated in 2013. When I taught history I wondered why Lincoln chose to send men to certain death to preserve the union. A couple of weeks ago I realized he had answered my question at Gettysburg. You can look it up.

A few months ago people were dancing in the streets in celebration of independence of the Sudan in Africa. This past couple of weeks those citizens have been fighting as fiercely as the Yankees and the Rebs did in their civil war. Is there a Lincoln or a Nelson Mandela to end this new horror?

As an erstwhile history teacher I have looked for guidelines to know what is worth recording for posterity. Some innovations alter the course of human affairs. Counting hits in Facebook or any of the websites seems to be the present criterion. Whether the hitters are merely curious or acting on the tee hee impulse, not to learn of life altering discoveries isn't parsed. Scarcely a valid ticket to a hall of fame.

A young woman expressed her graduation to maturity with a raunchy performance on TV. It made a certain wardrobe malfunction of a year or so ago look trivial. Why was a quick peek at one boob roundly condemned, the end of the world as we know it, while the simulation of intercourse was praised by many as an act of bravery?

Does it depend on who gets the first kick at the can, one offended by the behaviour or one who admires the brashness? Do other critics just jump on the bandwagon?

Incidentally, I wasn't in either camp. A Gypsy Rose Lee she ain't!

Should entertainment personalities be permitted different standards of social behaviour than politicians? Why?

As a person who actually did make a huge change in the unfolding of the historical pageant in 2013 we can't beat Chris Hadfield. The various websites that showed how life is experienced on the international space station received many thousands of hits. That puts him in the top echelon of newsmakers, but he doesn't take personal credit for either the publicity or the science he's popularized. He is very modest about his role and gives full credit to the thousands of men and women whose combined thought and work make space exploration possible. Most of the production of the videos was done by others, too.

Those who object to the investment in space exploration do not know of the knowledge that has led to many advances in everyday living here on the ground. Most of the jobs are here on Terra Firma, too.

We were urged before the Vancouver Olympics to "Believe!"

Chris Hadfield tells us if we venture into space on the strength of belief without years of training and engineering we will be on a one-way trip.

And so as we begin 2014 we may hope, better than simply believing. But hope has no power to control the future. We just have to wait and see what surprises us next.

And I desperately hope it isn't simply more so-called scandals!



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