The Legacy

Joan F. Marques - MBA, Doctoral Student
Burbank, California - February, 2003

Although I am trying not to dwell too long on something that is devastating enough as it is (there are plenty of sources out there doing it already), I would still like to make a few notes in respect of the Columbia space shuttle crew that was lost so shockingly in the beginning of February 2003.

In the midst of the nationwide calls for prayer toward the families of these astronauts, and the search for the exact causes of the tragedy, I am thinking of what may perhaps be considered the only positive point to this whole horrifying calamity: the legacy that these seven people left us. What can we learn from them? I think that's not too hard to discover: In fact, it's almost as easy as 1-2-3. Here goes:

1) Know what your goals are: It seems that these seven people, each one for him- or herself, had long formed their opinions about their aspirations, and they were genuinely devoted to achieving them. They knew exactly what they wanted, and went for it. Comments on television taught us that practically all of them had ambitions to once be an astronaut. They stuck to their desires. And although the reviews only showed us successful images and smiling moments in their careers, I am sure there were downfalls in their lives as well. Yet they kept their focus. And they got where they wanted to be.

2) Respect others and learn to perform as a team: Even though these 7 people must have had several interpretational, cultural, and perceptual divergences to overcome, they performed as a team. They understood the power of working together for the bigger purpose, and for the realization of their ideals. They learned to perform in harmony, which unquestionably means that they learned to respect each other's convictions and backgrounds. And that's more than many of us are willing to do, as we're caged in our ethnocentric mindset, which tells us that only our point of view is acceptable, and all others are wrong or less. These people realized that there was no room for such narrow-mindedness on their important mission.

3) Live your dream! The astronauts on the Columbia experienced one great blessing: they died while actually realizing their dream. How many of us really do that? Most of us dread our daily activities but continue executing them while contemplating over the woulda-coulda-shoulda's we don't dare to persevere toward. These seven people however, coming from various backgrounds, and confronted with various challenges, did! And if you listen to the stories of their lives, they were not much different from many of us. But they had their dream, and-most importantly, they lived up to it. And achieved it. How much more fortunate can a person be?

The seven astronauts of the Columbia represented more to me than an ill-fated team of perished scientists. When I see their images, so colorfully together, fragments of a song I sung as a child come back to me. Translated from Dutch it more or less goes like this:

We're traveling together
We're walking hand in hand.
One said, consoling th'other,
On to the Promised Land:
"Are we as brothers one?
No war for us to win.
Just peace on to begin.
And then our work is done"