In 2012, the Mars Rover graced the red planet at a speed of 13,200 mph. A small contraption, built by an ingenious group of men, traveling to a distant world. At the same time, down on earth, an illiterate criminal was shooting up a liquor store in Chicago.

There’s a vast difference between these two kinds of “men.”

As America continues to spiral into debt (19 trillion and counting), some tough decisions have to be made. Do we invest in a space program? Or do we invest in public welfare? Who ‘s worthy of investment and who’s not? We can already see the rubber hitting the road on this topic in local schools, where football is favored over music programs.

There’s an argument that’s often made against space travel: “Why are we exploring other planets when we have so many problems on earth?” For me, that always sounded great. But now that I’m older, I no longer believe the lie.

The ugly truth is that many people can’t be saved—moreover, they refuse to be saved. Libraries are free, yet only half of Americans have read a book in the past year. It’s free to walk and do sit ups, yet 63% of Americans are overweight. Young women are offered grants to pursue careers in IT, yet most prefer to monitor their frenemies on Facebook.  These groups will always say, “Hey, what about us?” And their complaining will go on forever. But there will come a day when instead of making a crucial discovery, humanity will futilely be trying to help someone who’s incapable of change.

Enough is enough. The genius is a bow on the boat of humanity, crashing through violent waters to find a mainland in the dark sea. He’s leading the majority of humanity’s crew, most of which are willfully ignorant. It’s the courage of the genius that leads humanity forward, that pulls the caveman out of darkness.

Why should the mediocre people be favored over the talented? Why should the plebeian be given precedence over a Michelangelo? A Richard Feynman? Why should the average Joe be hoisted above the astrophysicist?

We should go to space and we should go often. Humans lived like apes for millions of years and it was not until a small group of men arrived, driven forth by a restless passion for knowledge, that humanity was able to ascend. Humanity would have continued, like a beast in the jungle, if a light was not ignited.

The next time somebody points to problems on earth, respectfully nod and tell them, “Why should a genius be limited to one planet?”

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