“Nice painting,” my client said as he gazed at the “Earthrise” print on the wall. I keep the stunning shot in my office to help keep perspective and remember this beautiful blue marble is all we have.
“It’s a photograph,” I corrected. “William Anders took it 50 Christmas Eves ago from the command module of Apollo 8.”
“No. It’s a painting. Or one of those computer-generated things,” he insisted.
“Man’s never been to the moon.”
“What?” I squinted.
“Yeah,” he continued confidently. “Even Steph Curry said the whole moon thing is a government hoax.”
“Like climate change?” I poked.
“Exactly,” he smiled. “Curry’s a helluva player. One of the smartest players in the league.”
“But there’s warehouses full of evidence!”
“Were you there?”
I stood silent, mouth wide open.
“Reasonable people can disagree,” he said.
After our meeting, I went home and fact-checked my client. No, not about the government hoaxes of climate change or the moon landing. Did Steph Curry actually say the moon landings were a hoax?
Turns out he said it on December 9’s “Wingin’ It” podcast. And retracted it by saying he was joking later in the week. Given that he played at Davidson, I don’t know. One year at Duke was enough to convince fellow NBA All-Star Kyrie Irving the earth is flat. Apparently, North Carolina is the center for graduate studies in gerrymandering and a training camp for genius jocks that casually refute science and history.
When I told my son I was disappointed in Steph, one of his favorite NBA players, he said, “C’mon Pops. He’s shooting over 50 percent from the three point line. At least he believes there is a moon and it’s not just a lightbulb in the sky.”
At least he didn’t say, “Reasonable people can disagree.”
I admit, “Reasonable people can disagree.”
Reasonable people can disagree about whether Jesus was black, brown or white, born in a manger on December 25 in Bethlehem, whether Mary was actually a virgin, or whether Steph Curry is the best shooter ever. Those are matters of faith or opinion, rife with disagreements. “Reasonable” people can’t disagree that millions of people believe the Christmas story and in Jesus as Saviour, that millions of others don’t, and that Steph Curry has won two MVPs and three championships. There’s overwhelming evidence that our blue marble is home to hundreds of faiths and all of Steph’s trophies.
What reasonable people can’t disagree about is that on December 21, 1968, Apollo 8 lifted off Launch Pad 39A in Cape Canaveral, and on Christmas Eve orbited the moon and Astronaut Anders snapped the original “Earthrise” photo, an enlarged version of which hangs in my office. Reasonable people can’t disagree that most of the data and analysis of our planet’s most skilled scientists indicate that human activity is negatively impacting Earth’s climate and radically altering lives of numerous species, including our own.
Steph Curry is a gamechanger in the NBA, and “Earthrise” was a gamechanger in our maturing human consciousness. In a recent essay environmentalist Bill McKibben pointed out how the glimpse of our planet from the moon, “changed our relationship to the planet” and helped launch the environmental movement of the late ‘60s. The stunning beauty and fragility of the planet were undeniable when contrasted with the inhospitable starkness of the lunar landscape and empty blackness of space. (Well, should have been undeniable.) And as much as I love “Star Trek,” “Star Wars” and the idea of living on Vulcan or Tattooine, looking at “Earthrise” reminds me that Earth is all 99.99 percent of us realistically have.
I’ve had some wonderful Christmas presents in the 50 years since “Earthrise” (all celebrated on our blue marble). This year I’d like to see Steph and Kyrie play a little low-gravity one-on-one on the Sea of Tranquility. But, even more, I’d like to see one of Wilmington’s student-athletes gearing up to play the Brogden Holiday Basketball Tournament to be gearing to go back to the moon or Mars in a few years, and for them to launch from a more mature, connected planet that averted climate chaos.
Now, that would be a Christmas present!