“But if I were to say, my fellow citizens, that we shall send to the moon, 240,000 miles away from the control station in Houston, a giant rocket more than 300 feet tall, the length of this football field, made of new metal alloys, some of which have not yet been invented, capable of standing heat and stresses several times more than have ever been experienced, fitted together with a precision better than the finest watch, carrying all the equipment needed for propulsion, guidance, control, communications, food and survival, on an untried mission, to an unknown celestial body, and then return it safely to earth, re-entering the atmosphere at speeds of over 25,000 miles per hour, causing heat about half that of the temperature of the sun–almost as hot as it is here today–and do all this, and do it right, and do it first before this decade is out–then we must be bold.” – President John F. Kennedy, Rice Stadium Mission to the Moon Speech, September 12, 1962.
There is much I would not have had in common with President Kennedy had I lived during his presidency. His values and priorities differed from mine in many ways. But one thing I treasure from his time in the White House was his clear and exciting vision for space and space exploration. Kennedy tapped into and managed to execute some fundamentals of vision casting that the current administration should discover. For example, the vision must be huge (beyond anything we have ever attempted), compelling (able to capture the imagination of the masses and foster enthusiasm), focused (limited in its scope), time-based (a deadline for the goal must be set), and functional (matching the vision to a particular resource that can functionally accomplish the vision). Further, any great leader must possess the ability to see the vision, communicate the vision, allocate resources in the direction of the vision, and then persevere until the vision becomes reality. But it all starts with a bold vision and one that complements an entity, group, or agency rather than contradicting it.
This past year we saw the gutting of the greatest space exploration agency in the history of the world. Gone are the days of visionary leadership reflected in Kennedy’s historic speech on our national adventure to reach the moon. My own niece, after pursuing a graduate education for the express reason of serving within NASA and becoming decorated for her efforts together with her team, lost her job in the fray. Would we realistically shoot for Mars or set any other grand vision for NASA and our great nation or would some other purpose be established for our space agency that has been the envy of the world for fifty years?
Well, the answer is in. This past week the NASA director in the Obama administration revealed to news organizations that his chief goal for NASA, as directed by Obama, is to reach out to the Muslim world to encourage them for their contribution in math and sciences. Huh?!? I’m really starting to feel like Alice in Wonderland here trying to figure out how this agency would be pushed so far out of its charter to become the personal ambassador for Islam under this administration. Could you imagine if a sitting president made the NASA director’s top goal to reach out to the Jews or strengthen ties to the Vatican? President Kennedy cast a vision for a mission to the moon while our sitting President pushes a mission to the crescent moon.
I don’t like the socialistic bent of this administration, the out of control spending, the propensity to apologize on behalf of our nation for every ill ever known to man, or the shady back door deal making and intimidation that would make G. Gordon Liddy blush. But I (at the risk of going Glenn Beck for just a moment) simply cannot stand by and watch the ridiculous redirection of our nation’s agencies and resources to further an Islamic agenda when they should be activated for the accomplishing of a function that is consistent with the agencies’ stated purpose and resources and consistent with our long-term interests as a nation. We must pray for the eyes of our leaders throughout the nation to open to the reality that we are in a spiritual war that manifests itself as a cultural, political, or military war. This revelation will go a long way to slow our national descent down the slippery slope of false expectation and appeasement.