“We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard.” –JFK, 1962
On July 20, 2019 I did a big bike ride. It was 111 miles with 10,000 feet of elevation gain (180 km, 3.050 m.) It was more than I had bargained for. I couldn’t have done it without having set the goal for myself almost a year ago. I just kept thinking: I told myself I was going to do this and now I am doing this, damn it!
The goal got me through it. Goals take on a life of their own and help you achieve what otherwise might seem impossible. A goal is like having a better version of yourself cheering you on and not letting you quit.
As a complete coincidence this happened on the 50th anniversary of my earliest memory: watching the moon landing of Apollo 11 on television. Even though I was only 5, I remember thinking: Wow, we achieved something big! We got there, at least partially, because President Kennedy set the goal 6 years earlier at Rice Stadium in Houston.
Throughout that day I was thinking about JFK’s speech, which you can see highlights from here:
We need goals to keep us focused on what is really important right now: avoiding catastrophic consequences of climate change and limiting further ecological deterioration. This is not just some altruistic pipe dream, but a matter of survival. Those goals need to include:
- Carbon neutral by 2050;
- Halt human-caused extinctions;
- Eliminate unsustainable fishing practices and put much more of the oceans under protection;
- Clean air and clean water;
Don’t kid yourself. This is not going to be easy. It will be hard. (But if you’re on a bike it will also be fun!) Much more so than the space race, this effort needs to involve everyone. Not least because we have no leadership. We must be the leaders.
I choose to lead on a bike. Where will you be?