Tuesday, May 23, 2006

A salute to Eilene Galloway, pioneer in space law

Eilene Galloway was born less than three years after the Wright Brothers' historic first flight. She grew up to help create NASA, and to help draft treaties governing the use and exploration of space, amongst other things. And she's delightful at age 100, if this short feature and video of her by NASA TV is any guide.

Here's a speech she gave at Swathmore College in 1992 when she received an honorary degree. In the middle of it, by the way, she bemoans an overemphasis on what these days we would call multiculturalism. A snippet:

...We are now forced to deal with the complex task of getting a stable relationship between Unity and Diversity. We cannot over-indulge diversity to the point that it becomes a weed that chokes out unity; but neither should we provide such strict conditions for unity that we lose the advantages of diversity.

We had a policy--"United we stand; divided we fall"--and we combined this with the idea of a melting pot for citizenship to achieve one national indivisible. Lately, however, instead of emphasizing ways in which we can be alike, we yell loudly about our differences. We concentrate on past origins as if we are permanently tethered, clinging as hyphenated European-Americans, Asian-Americans, Afro-Americans--Why can't we all be just Americans?

The task of ensuring a healthy environment for our society, and protecting it against psychological pollution, is not beyond our powers...

Ooh, well said. I'd like to second that, please.

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