The True Face of Exploration

Continuing the Voyage: The Spirit of Endeavour - Remarks to The Royal Society of the United Kingdom by NASA Administrator Michael Griffin

"Some of these lessons are in evidence in my own land. America's origins do not begin on a specific date, nor do they involve any one particular group of people. Many of us in America are the descendants of pioneers from Spain, Portugal, Holland, Scotland, England, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, and many other countries, who emigrated over many generations and settled in what became the United States, in search of new riches, new freedoms, and new beginnings."

Editor's note: This is a nice speech, finely tuned to the audience it was presented to - one that links exploration of the past with that of the present - and the future. Yet, looking back at other speeches Mike Griffin has given on this topic, I can't help but notice a clear, almost exclusionary focus on Western civilization in his comments.

At times, if you listent to Griffin's comments, it is almost as if Western Europe was the only player in the exploration of our planet that really mattered when,in fact, Europe was a relative latecomer this endeavour. Also, North and South America are an amalgam of much more than just the specific countries listed - and draw a collective heritage from Asia, Africa - and the Americas as well. Indeed, I think one could certainly describe the journeys of those first Americans, millenia ago, as being "in search of new riches, new freedoms, and new beginnings" - all done with far less technology than was available to later explorers. This omission is somewhat curious when you consider that Griffin is reportedly part Cherokee.

No, I am not advocating that Griffin's every utterance be screened and modified for political correctness. But when he is speaking abroad, invoking global exploration themes, and seeking global participation, I just think it would serve him - and NASA much better - if he took into account the history of all explorers - not just a select few who spoke the same language as he does.

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This page contains a single entry by Keith Cowing published on December 1, 2006 3:02 PM.

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