Do you have the right stuff?

Today's guest post is by Peppercommer Lauren Begley.

NASA has launched a new campaign aimed at recruiting new astronauts for its class of 2013. The crux of the plea is simple: NASA seeks the next generation of curious dare devils willing to explore deeper into space than ever before.

There is a sense of national pride and raw, unbridled courage that is seemingly required to participate in the space program. However, the announcement comes just a few short months after the halt of U.S. space shuttle missions. The organization’s reputation is also hurting as people today are more concerned with spending government funds on programs that will help the economy here on earth. Was this recruitment campaign ill-timed?

I say no. And here’s why:

We need better role models: Pop culture is filled with so-called icons but half of their last names are Kardashian. I remember reading The Right Stuff in college (one of my all-time favorite books, by the way), and wishing we had heroes like Chuck Yeager and fellow Ohioan John Glenn. They stood for courage, adventure and American pride; a much better alternative than celebrities who stand for making unearned cash and having a good time.

We need to reinvigorate wonder around the possibility of what’s out there: Perhaps sci-fi movies over the years have diminished our curiosity about space. I wasn’t around in 1969, but I imagine it was a pretty incredible experience to watch Neil Armstrong step foot on the moon. Considering how far technology has advanced since then, it’s inspiring to think of where we can go and what we can learn in the future.

We need to encourage young people to study science and math: This point is most important in my book. I was always fascinated by science as a kid, but the math got in my way so I ended up a communications major in college. Not to say that marketing and PR professionals aren’t making a difference, but it’s the professionals in the research, engineering, medical and technology fields that are moving humanity forward by leaps and bounds. The economy is still struggling and the best way to ensure a stronger, better future is to foster the intellectual curiosity and capability of young people.

3 thoughts on “Do you have the right stuff?

  1. I may have to enroll in one of those ‘how to get into a TV reality show’ classes, Julie. Lauren: this is a great blog. I agree America is bankrupt when it comes to leadership. Whether it’s business, politics, sports, religion or entertainment, no one leads or inspires anymore. To borrow a phrase from Tom Wolfe’s book about the original Mercury astronauts, we’re ‘screwing the pooch’ when it comes to training tomorrow’s leaders.

  2. I think society would have better role models once we stop rewarding bad behavior, i.e. – it has been reported that Jersey Shore’s Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino earned $5 million last year, and I’m sure his castmates are also doing very well with their respective books, perfumes, and various endorsements.
    So, what does this teach kids? Strive to get yourself on a reality TV show (in fact, there are classes now that teach how to do this), get drunk, act stupid, and have lots of promiscuous encounters. That will make you rich and famous.