Before "civilian astronauts", what whould be done? 11-01-2005 10:24

Perhaps your guest civilian 鈥淎stronaut鈥 should have been required to take a tour before deciding to spend $22,000,000 for a self-indulgent ride in space. In the future, if China decides to buy into the program, potential civilian astronauts should be required to visit villages, schools, hospitals and workplaces.

Perhaps they should talk to the people who; live in sub-standard housing without running water or sanitary facilities; who toil daily in the fields for a meager income and are barely able to feed and clothe their families and who go to sleep hungry and cold with no hope of improvement.

Perhaps they should talk to students; whose families have to choose between food and other necessities to send their child to school, buy books and pay other questionable fees; who study hard and long but cannot afford to go on to higher education; who lack adequate learning resources like libraries, computers and internet access; who live in unhealthy environments with poor nutrition, polluted and contaminated water and food; who study long hours in overcrowded classrooms in run down schools with poorly trained teachers; who go to universities and colleges where they share a room with 4 to 9 other students with constant disturbances and inconveniences and inadequate bathing and sanitary conditions; students who have to stretch the little money they have and choose between eating healthy food and buying new shoes and students who have to work in menial and low paying part-time jobs and are still unable to compete with the lucky few are come from relatively wealthy families and have the necessary connection to find a job after graduation.

Perhaps they should visit any hospital in China and talk to the people; who work through the pain and suffering of illness but cannot afford the cost of medical care (when it is available), who have relatives who must do without necessities and live with their own untreated illnesses in order to pay for other family members鈥 treatment; who see a doctor who sees 50 to 100 or more patients everyday and cannot give them the individual attention they need; whose teeth are rotting to the root and eyes that cannot see properly but cannot afford such corrective "Luxuries;" who become more ill after being exposed to other diseases in the hospital or medical facility that is unsanitary, unheated, ill equipped and staffed with inadequately trained personnel and the people who have become sick due to the pollution in their environment, lack of food, nutrition or proper living conditions, education and information or necessary and hard decisions they have to make in their work and daily lives.

Perhaps they should talk to workers; who have not had the advantage of good education or family connections and work long hours each day and in all weather for very little pay and few if any holidays; who have inadequate tools and no work benefits such as health insurance, safety protection of themselves or their workplace, retirement, job security, means of advancement or even the certainty they will be paid by their unscrupulous and well connected employer; who cannot afford healthy food or health care or to take time off for illness; who own a little store that will become obsolete when a large 鈥淐hain Store鈥 moves into the area; who continually face unemployment at the completion of a job and who frequently must turn to illegal, dishonest or corrupt activities and methods to survive.

Perhaps if these future civilian astronauts (and government officials) did this they would grow to understand that there might be better ways to spend their money? Perhaps these people, who work and live in their relatively extravagant and isolated environments and, influenced by the wealthy, powerful and well-connected, are either forgetful, without concern or ignorant of these conditions, would balance personal benefit with how much $22,000,000 (or more) could benefit the health, education or welfare of many, many people? And perhaps, if these people would talk with other people who have lived with compassion and giving, they too would understand and experience the "True" joy and fulfillment in life?

From Bill Mahoney

Editor:Chen Zhuo

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