#97 July 1996
Section 126.96.36.199.097.of the Artemis Data Book
by Peter Kokh
MMM#97 - July, 1996
WARNING: this article reflects the writer's personal spirituality and may be offensive or troubling to some personal sensitivities. Please do feel free to skip it.
If the message of Tanstaafl is the soul of the frontier, it is even more true that we can afford to lose no one's productivity to the luxury of righteous exile from society. To lock up people "where they can do no harm" means as well locking them up "where they can do no good". On the Moon as anywhere we will find the antisocial, the criminal, those seeking to get their own at the expense of others instead of along with them. But on the space frontier, rechanneling and redirecting the self-fulfillment energies of such individuals will be a much more productive thing to do. "Revenge is mine" says the Lord. Maybe on the Moon we will finally decide to take heed. In a society, when we excommunicate a member, we all become less for it. Practicing apartheid for misfits is an admission that we have all failed, not just the individual we separate from ourselves. And repatriation to Earth will be a doubly expensive option as the passage of a replacement along with his orientation and training must be paid as well.
The very nature of the frontier means that there will be a lot of jobs that are more difficult and more dangerous to do. That does not make them any the less fulfilling or capable of inducing a sense of self-worth. Such jobs can absorb a lot of "hostile energies". Opening new roads, pioneering new remote settlements, exploring lavatube mazes, establishing outposts on asteroids are all things worth doing.
"Misfits" and "offenders" can be given the choice of signing up for such duty living in communities of their peers in which they are given all the knowledge and tools to do the job and tasks at hand - but no bars, no guards, no warden, thank you. The assignees can elect and impeach their own leaders on the basis of accomplishment and its consequent shared rewards. Spontaneous justice will quickly purge those who slack off at the expense of others. To survive, one must play the game, and in the process learn how to be a citizen. [see MMM # 35 MAY '90, p.3, "Ports of Pardon"]
In general, on the frontier, it will be to everyone's benefit that whatever help is necessary be given to bring out the best in those who are, for one reason or another, showing difficulty in playing a productive role. This means working to integrate the handicapped, the injured, the aged, and the developmentally challenged into activities that contribute to the cultural commonwealth. The very fact of doing so and finding effective ways to channel concern for others for whom "it doesn't come easy" is bound to have a very significant effect on the spirituality quotient of the settlement(s) as a whole.
We might define a monastery as:
an all male, or all female recruit-replenished vow-celibate community in which spirituality and meditation sublimate the needs for active sexual life and compensatory creature comforts along with dedication to yeoman work beneficial to humanity in exchange for those material needs which they are not able to meet through their own industry and resourcefulness.
In the past such duties have included scribe service, and the maintenance of ancient documents. More recently, monasteries have earned their keep by economic activities which in themselves hardly set them apart, e.g. wine-making.
But on the space frontier, should enough men and women heed the very personal call to set themselves apart from all "the world" holds dear in order to dedicate themselves and their lives to some higher service, monasteries could fill some important needs. This will serve an even more valuable purpose in locations with little appeal (if only for the total lack of any place to spend "discretionary income") or on tedious tasks with little reward.
(1) Staffing a Farside Advanced Radio Astronomy Facility [F.A.R.A.F.] dedicated to S.E.T.I., and/or serving as support staff for a professional staff of astronomers and their assistants. In this capacity they could do construction, raise crops, catalog and examine data, etc.
(2) Building, incessantly adding to, and maintaining some Grand Archives of all Humanity and Gaia in a lunar lavatube secure for the eons against the ravages of cosmic weather. Here would be stored all of the ever accumulating mass of human knowledge: science, theory, religion, culture, (literature, entertainment, religion and belief, performing and plastic arts and crafts); knowledge of Earth present and past (archeological finds and reconstructions, fossil traces) and succeeding alternate visions of the future. Everything stored or preserved on Earth is vulnerable to natural disasters (flood, earthquake, tornado, hurricane, fire, dry rot, insect attack, mold, and the sin of all sins, deliberate destruction as in the burning of the Library of Alexandria or of the Mayan scrolls, both by religious fanatics (may they burn in the hell of hells).
A successful transplant of monasticism to the Moon could serve us well elsewhere; a) Crewing multi-year-long supply runs to and from the outer solar system. It might take four to seven years one way to run supplies from Earth to an outpost on Iapetus (Saturn), much longer still to Uranus or Neptune; b) Staffing remote observatories, for example a solar polar observatory on Pallas with its off the beaten track 35x orbital inclination to the ecliptic; c) Or lifetime staffing of exploration outposts in the outer solar system to and from which regular crew rotation may always be quite impractical.
The Moon will be a life setting unlike anything in the whole of previous human experience. The differences with Earth, in so far as they will impact personal spirituality and religious sensitivities are significant. For individuals and human society as a whole the spiritual repercussions of lunar settlement may be profound.
Contents of this issue of Moon Miners' Manifesto