Today on the radio there was a piece about NASA and their plans for colonizing Mars. Very interesting. Once again NASA is looking at a problem in a different way. They are trying to answer the question "how to build habitable space in an hostile environment" similarly to building habitats in remote areas on this planet.
The part of the piece that caught my attention was the personal story of Charles Bolden the first African American NASA administrator. He grew up in segregated South Carolina and when he was in high school was having difficulty getting any appointment to any military academy. As he tells his story, he doesn't sound bitter but states the facts of the time- segregation and all it entailed with the white legislators from his state. Through the help of President Lyndon Johnson he was able to secure a position at the Naval Academy and went on with a career as a Marine Corps aviator, then astronaut and finally NASA administrator.
Even though Strom Thurmond did not help his state constituent in the initial position, Senator Thurmond did write personal congratulatory notes to Charles Bolden with every milestone Bolden achieved. Charles Bolden sounded like he had forgiven Senator Thurmond and has moved on with his life.
He says he took this [congratulatory letters] to mean that people are capable of changing. "Even people who seem to be evil or seem to be bad, deep down inside they know what's right and they want to do it and they will try to find a way to make good things happen," Bolden said.
What a great story of recognition of the complexities of people and the capability of forgiveness. Even reading this I was taken by surprise, for neither Strom Thurmond nor President Johnson are my favorite politicians. Recognizing that of course they were life long politicians which means everything done is calculated for self benefit, yet I was surprised that they would make a point of helping and following a young man. Just goes to show how people will surprise you and do the right thing as Bolden states.
Makes me wonder about the people I know and have known- those who I have either written off or those who I have tuned out because I don't like their beliefs or policies. Perhaps I need to revisit the relationship- listen to them, hear their side of the story and make the effort to restore some type of communication, either through reconsidering their beliefs (as in the case of public figures) or in reaching out (as in the case of former friends and acquaintances). Either way I need to settle the matter in my heart, not to be quick to judge and to be open to change and possibilities.
I think one of the reasons Charles Bolden has become who he is and has accomplished what he has done (besides being incredibly intelligent and brave) is that he appears to be a person who goes about life with an open mind and heart. He isn't weighed down by past baggage but has the freedom to move forward. It is not that he started a deep relationship with Senator Thurmond but that he, Charles Bolden didn't let any bitterness from the past shape his future.
What about you? Are there people in your life you may need to reconsider? Are there people who seem to have "done you wrong"? How can you keep an open mind for change and possibilities? For yourself and for the other person? How can you lighten the load of your past so that you can have the freedom to embrace your future?