Worldwide, the death of Neil Armstrong has been splattered across the front of all the major news papers and websites, has been trending on twitter, has been featured on numerous blogs, and has headlined news programs. It is deserved. But, are we forgetting why it is deserved? Can we harness this power?

Just this morning one of my friends in Africa remarked on how important Armstrong was to him.  To him, Armstrong was the epitome of courage. To others he spurred their interest in science, and I have even heard he inspired his comrades to greater heights. By contrast, to me Armstrong is the modern day Columbus: a symbol of what bravery, intelligence, curiosity and drive can achieve. To me he is a symbol of what society can achieve when we unite behind those elements and strive for something more. It seems Armstrong meant many things to many people, but there is one commonality: inspiration. He is important to us all, because he inspired us all.

I have talked before about our need for inspiration. Inspiration is what fuels the next generation to greatness, to do better than those that came before. For many, many people, that inspiration was Neil Armstrong. He inspired many a young person to take on science. He inspired many a young person to take on anything and everything. If man could walk on the moon, anything is possible. Such inspiration is all but gone from today’s world. Today we admire business figures. We admire entrepreneurs and innovators who become wealthy. We admire people who can capitalize, not people who discover things and chase after knowledge purely for the sake of doing so. We admire people who overcome societal boundaries, not the boundaries of nature and human experience.

But, while we are individually greatly inspired by Armstrong, unlike Columbus, society as a whole has not built on Armstrong’s efforts. We have not taken the next step. We have not used his achievements as a Launchpad for more. We didn’t colonize. We didn’t establish a long-term presence. We didn’t harness any resources. We didn’t gain any earth shattering breakthroughs. We did nothing. To go back to the Columbus metaphor, we essentially revisited America a couple more times and then lost interest. We lost interest in America. We lost interest in finding new worlds. We lost interest in the outside. We lost interest in general. We all but stopped leaving the house. This needs to change. With Armstrong’s death, we should revisit what he has meant to all of us, and see if we can recreate this amazing feeling once more. But this time, we must capitalize on it.

With the outpouring of affection that we now see toward Neil Armstrong, governments around the world should find ways to increase the budgets of agencies like NASA. What we learned from Neil Armstrong is that we must take another great leap. The Mars Curiosity is a great step, but we need more. We need to send a human to mars. We need to send a human back to the moon. We need to discover more. We need to inspire more. We need to do something once again that is that worthy of inspiration. What we learnt from Neil Armstrong is that anything is possible. So we must try to once again do the impossible. What we learned from Neil Armstrong is the power of inspiration, but also that inspiration must be capitalized upon. Let’s seek such inspiration again, but this time lets capitalize upon it. This is what will drive the next generation.

Originally posted @ Sakalabujan Magazine