Xu’s fingers collected together and gently pressed upon the Enter key on the keyboard. She saw the screen go dark. Her chat session had ended. As with the other colonists, she had the ability to hold private communications with anyone on the Moon or on the Earth. Her latest just ended. It had been with the secretariat of a group of investment bankers. The conversation had been dire. All about profits smaller than forecast and losses greater than expected. But the conversation hadn’t been directed at their adventure on the Moon. The chat topic had been a general overview of the Earth’s economy.
In her mind, she repeated many of the verbal expressions she had heard. She tasted the nuances. Rolled syllables and stressed accents when repeating words spoken as the speaker had. From it, she didn’t sense any pretence or menace. Neither was there a sensation of a threat or warning. Yet the thrust of the conversation was obvious. The Earth’s economy was continuing to deflate. It was steadily marching toward the end of the service economy. The service economy had replaced the production economy. The production economy had replaced the simple barter economy. However, nothing was replacing the service economy. The best that the secretariat hoped for was a long period of nil inflation. It would be a period having very little demand for production, construction or invention. From it, Xu conferred that the conversation’s overall message was to aim for steady state, a need to keep things moribund.
On the positive side, she accepted that the lunar colony existed within the continuum. As such she expected the secretariat to continue supporting it. On the negative side she knew that any requests by the Lunar Colony Fund to speed up construction or enlarge work scope would likely be met with a very quick refusal. Further, it was possible that a risk once realised would overwhelm the perceived resources and put an end to their lunar dreams.
While much of this perception of the economy was not new, the chat left her with a heightened sense of unease.
“Zara,” she enquired “remind me, why are we doing this?”
Zara looked down and then up with a look of confusion on her face. “We’re doing this to improve the process for extracting water from the surface rocks.” she replied.
“No, not why are we doing this chemical analysis. Look at the bigger picture. Why are we trying to live on the Moon? Our bodies were made for living on Earth. There they’d grow free and easy. They’re adapted to the gravity, to the air, to the ecosystem. Yet here on the Moon we are imprisoned within a metal tube. Nothing is either free or easy. Nothing is natural about our existence.” she paused.
“You certainly start big conversations in a quick way” Zara said. “Let me try to answer. I find when looking at the bigger picture that I have to look from a reference much grander than myself. It’s not about me sitting at this table. It’s not about us living in the Hab. It is about humanity making its first step off of Earth. It’s a trial. If we can survive then we can consider the limits of the universe as being the limits to humankind’s opportunity. If we can’t survive then the human race accepts that while we live on Earth freely and easily, the Earth is our prison. A prison that won’t let us ever leave.”
“That’s an interesting and yet very appropriate perspective for us here on the Moon. We represent the very limits of humanity. Not only do we determine if the human race is capable of surviving off planet Earth, we also determine if the human race has the desire. What is the limit to humanity’s desires? Do we want to live forever? Do we want to travel the stars? Can you even identify a desire for all of humanity?” Xu had many questions.
“I like where you’re going with this. What a great question. How do we identify humanity’s desires? Sure we understand personal desire personal. Individually, we want to be safe, we want to live in comfort, we want progeny. Where do we want to go as a group? Does the group have the same desires? And should we only direct our efforts to these desires? I must admit, my personal desire has been instrumental in getting me onto the Moon. I’ve just accepted that having people on the Moon is the logical next step so I haven’t really thought about why. Should we be concerned?”
“No. There’s nothing really to worry about. I just finished a chat with a person who seemed that today was OK but that tomorrow, at best, would be no different. As if humanity on Earth was settling down. Whatever that means. If people on Earth decide that the status quo is good enough then they could very likely define desires to minimize change. This could be in conflict with our situation on the Moon as here we’re all about change. Personally, I’m hoping that humanity continues to see the value in pushing frontiers.”