This was a time before the Moon was a "Place." I've spoken and written of this often, but I'm not sure those of you too young to remember it can really understand the impact. I say "Moon," and you think of a place, of rolling grey hills that show no jagged edges, of people bundled up in comical padded suits, hopping across the landscape like bunnies. Oh, sure, you also think of the light in the sky. The bit of nighttime scenery, the playful crescent, the spooky Hallowe'en orb. But you also see those gently rolling hills.
And that began with Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and William Anders, 70 miles above the Lunar surface, seeing an actual landscape.
And on Christmas eve, from a place closer to that barren, alien world, than I am to any of my LJ friends (Save possibly modestyrabnott) the voices of three human beings spoke to the entire human race. They read the first ten verses of "Genesis" from the King James Bible -- a specifically Christian and generally religious choice I am not entirely comfortable with -- and wished the best to the people of the world that they had, for that moment, left behind.
And they showed us something that changed everything. They showed us that our world, the entire length and breadth of all human experience -- save theirs -- was all entirely contained within what the moon had been until that moment: a tiny, fragile, lonely light in the sky.
Politicians like to tell us that there is more that unites us than divides us. It's truer than their callow platitudes can imagine. Democrat and Republican, Liberal and Conservative, American and Briton and Australian and German and Iraqi and Afghanistani and Russian and Chinese, Christian and Jew and Muslim and Buddhist and Hindu... All of us live side by side on this big blue marble, on this light in the sky that a man on the moon could hide behind his thumbnail.
And humankind saw that, as we watched, for the very first time, the small, fragile earth rising from behind the horizon of another world.
So I wish to you all, all my sisters and brothers and neighbors on this fragile planet, the same good wishes that Messrs Borman, Lovell, and Anders offered to theirs, from that unique viewpoint:
"Good night, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you, all of you on the good Earth."