For today's Wednesday Writings I am sharing a speech I wrote while I was a member of the Academic Decathlon team. Keep in mind its a speech, and is written like such. Hope you enjoy my thoughts from 2004!
“Starlight, Star bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, have the wish I wish tonight….I wish, I wish…I wish that you could tell me the meaning of the universe.”
Wouldn’t that be nice? A formula so sophisticated that with just one snap…the answer to life, death, even the meaning of the universe, would be solved. The ongoing conflict between the spiritual and the scientific would be no more, only the truth, only the ultimate solution.
But, wouldn’t it be true that if a Theory of Everything were created learning would cease, discoveries would be hollow, in essence the purpose for life would die, because we would already know the who, what, why and how of our existence? We would have no reason to experience the thrills of a roller coaster or join our souls in marriage or even strive for a higher education. If we already knew where our path led, why would we, in our human nature, waste our energy on the scenic route?
The answer to these questions lie within the realm of reality. We are life, from the moment we are conceived to the hour of our death. Each decision we make, each gentle nod, each whisper of gossip, each game of football, each opening night movie, each breath…is precious, because its quite obvious that the coveted “Theory of Everything” is strictly impossible. The purpose for life then, is not to work everyday to solve the universe’s mystery, but rather to build a bridge from our understanding of science and what we consider to be facts, to the puzzling territory, just beyond the shore of proof.
This bridge construction is not drawn out in a blueprint, it is not designed by a team of engineers, its shape is not restricted by width or height or length, the only restriction is the depth of the builder’s consciousness, the willingness to distribute faith.
Neil Armstrong started out as a stereotypical young boy. A good family life, respectable grades, and self discipline. These virtues followed him into becoming a college graduate, a US Navy combat pilot, test pilot, professor, businessman, and presidential advisor. While this record is by all means enviable, it is not completely original. Anyone with enough drive and intelligence could potentially reach this same level of success. The distinguishing factor between the “Neil Armstrong prototype” and the real Neil Alden Armstrong is a profound devotion to that construction zone located to the east of the scientific and the west of the spiritual. That construction zone, that when completed, will become the bridge to access our individual “Theory of Everything.” By the time of its completion, we will have experienced the scenic journey, we will have solved for all the variables, we will have calculated the solution. When Armstrong stepped from the Lunar Module, the vehicle created by science to land him safely on the moon, he was carried downward by something not even science is able to explain. He was carried from the scientific to the spiritual. In that instant, as the eyes watched, as engineers rejoiced, as a world was, for an instant, united, an unexplainable phenomenon reached out and grabbed Armstrong by the hand.
Science alone did not land us on the moon. Finite science, equated with the infinite divinity opened itself to mankind. Ultimately, it was faith that guided the minds and computers of “The Eagle.” Perhaps its landing spot is properly named: “The Sea of Tranquility.”
As we complete this journey from the scientific to the spiritual, from infancy to maturity, from admirer to administrative, we are humbled in the countenance of superiority. As John Gillespie Magee, Jr. a 19 year old World War II airplane battler put it… “Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth…put out my hand, and touched the face of God.”