Sometimes, we have to peer into the dim recesses of the past to visualize how bright the future can be.
Most of us remember watching Neal Armstrong, live or on videotape, as he stepped onto the surface of the moon. We remember that grainy, shadowy, black and white image as he assured us that it was one small step for man but a giant leap for mankind.
History has proven that Neal Armstrong was right, but if his small step for man took place in July of 1969, I would submit for your consideration that the giant leap for mankind took place on May 25, 1961–more than eight years before Neal Armstrong struggled down the ladder of the Apollo landing craft.
In May of 1961, President John F. Kennedy spoke to a joint session of Congress. On that day, he threw down the gauntlet that America should send a man to the moon and return him safely within the decade. As we look back on a successful moon landing for that Apollo mission, it’s hard to imagine the audacity of President Kennedy’s statement in 1961.
As he uttered those words, no American had even been in earth orbit, much less approach the moon.Â The moon landing would require rockets not yet designed, made of metals and alloys not yet conceived, flown using navigation, telemetry, and docking techniques not yet developed.
From 1969 through 1972, 12 Americans walked on the moon. During that time, it became so routine to us back here on earth that moon landings didn’t even garner top headlines or interrupt the primetime TV schedule. No one has been back to the moon since then.
As we look back on this awesome feat made possible through the committed efforts of literally thousands of people, we have to ask ourselves whether JFK already knew things were possible when he made the statement or whether, when he made the statement, the impossible became conceivable, and the conceivable became doable.
Having read historical accounts written by the best scientific minds of the 1960s and now the 21st Century, it is apparent that neither President Kennedy nor anyone else knew how we would get to the moon.
The most miraculous outcome of Apollo may not be the walk on the moon. It may be the power of an idea clearly articulated with firm conviction.
Many scientific breakthroughs came out of those Apollo moon missions that made the world a better place; but these improvements pale in comparison to what we could do if we would practice a bit more audacity and a bit less practicality.
My friend and colleague, Dr. Robert Schuller, often says, “Never get the “How are you going to do it?” mixed up in the “What are you going to do?” ” Dr. Schuller understands what President Kennedy understood which is that our capacity is much greater than our current situation or the sum total of our present abilities.
As you go through your day today, think audacious thoughts, and make a point of taking an evening stroll. Look up at the moon, and imagine the possibilities.
Today’s the day!
Jim Stovall is the president of Narrative Television Network, as well as a published author of many books including The Ultimate Gift. He is also a columnist and motivational speaker. He may be reached at 5840 South Memorial Drive, Suite 312, Tulsa, OK 74145-9082, or by e-mail at JimStovall@aol.com. Visit www.JimStovall.com
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