Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of the people I slot into my “top 5″ when thinking about the list of people I most admire on the planet. He’s not as well known as most of the rest of the pop culture landscape, but that’s because he’s not pop; he’s a scientist of the same ilk as Carl Sagan and Richard P. Feynman. He’s a byproduct of decades of curiosity on a universal scale, and his thoughts, dreams, and desires in many ways reflect the very best that the human race has to offer. Were I young enough to idolize, Neil deGrasse Tyson would be atop the list beating out Optimus Prime, Jeremy Clarkson, and John Hammond from Jurassic Park. As it stands, I’m old enough that my idolatry has been replaced by respect, and outside of my immediate family I’d be hard-pressed to single out any person I respect more.
This is Neil deGrasse Tyson’s modest proposal: That as a country and as a people, we were never as good as when we were actively exploring the cosmos; that we can see the results of that exploration and universal curiosity on the planet as a whole and on the progress of human civilization; that never before – and never since – has there been such a drastic and dramatic shift in the viewpoint and progress of civilization away from tribal warfare and towards a united understanding of the human population. Yet, all of that was done with so little – and over time, even less than that. In light of the results, and in light of the costs, Neil deGrasse Tyson is asking the United States to double the budget of Nasa from .4% of the total budget to 1% of the total budget.
Given the current state of economics and politics it’s a difficult argument to make right now, but he makes it so succinctly and so well that it’s almost impossible to argue how much we will gain as a country, as a people, and as a planet. If you’re interested in reading and knowing more, I’d recommend visiting Penny4Nasa.org and taking a look at some of the other videos. If nothing else, you’ll have a better understanding of the passion that comes from looking out into the universe and seeing yourself in the reflection.