One Giant Loss for Mankind: Remembering Neil Armstrong
When Neil Armstrong died on Saturday, at the age of 82, mankind lost one of its most iconic heroes.
Armstrong represents the archetypical explorer. He was our generation’s Columbus, Scott, Hillary, Einstein, our pioneer and discoverer. And that’s what it used to take to instil awe and respect in the public. Admiration used to require obvious courage, manifest altruism, and observable success in overcoming formidable challenges.
Armstrong glued a whole planet’s population to their radios (and a few TVs) by successfully accomplishing a feat that was dangerous but necessary, for us. His small step was done for mankind. That’s what made the quote so inspiring. He risked his life on the Apollo 11 mission, catapulted into the unknown, and used his flight skills to manually land the Eagle, with only thirty seconds of fuel left, on the Sea of Tranquillity. And he did it for us.
Today, celebrities tend to be people famous for being famous–and not much else. Feats of daring courage and visionary discovery are no longer requisite traits needed to command our admiration. Case in point: the most Googled name this year so far is… Justin Bieber.
Well, to each his own. Role models come in all calibers.
But any time we contemplate our human heroes and what they have done, we need to remember what Jesus did. Our faith is not simply based on what Jesus taught, but what he did. What He accomplished. For us.
Isaiah 53:7 “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.”
Our Savior lived a perfect, sinless life. He went to the cross with determination, and He bore our sins.
As we read this week about Neil Armstrong and the historical feat for which he is known, let’s enjoy that the spotlight is momentarily on someone who has earned it. But let’s also keep some perspective. I think it’s what Armstrong would have wanted.
His understated celebrity was served well by his trademark humility, a trait which puts to shame those who bask in the spotlight of lesser feats.
Here’s a tidbit of the man’s penchant for understatement. When asked what it was like to stand on the Moon he offered this charming reply:
It’s an interesting place to be. I recommend it.”
This is gentleman I would have liked to have met. I feel for his family’s loss. But any time we lose a hero of his stature it is a giant loss for mankind.