Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Honoring Your Guru - A Few Callouts on the Fourth of July

July 4th seems to be a good moment in time to consider the idea of honoring our "gurus" - the people who have inspired, encouraged, taught, motivated, and generally allowed our dreams to take form.  Sarah Noble, the artist of the piece Guru Purnima chose to honor her science gurus, and more, with this meeting of Moon and lotus.

I've always been troubled that for some people, the fourth of July is only about military achievement.  While I deeply appreciate the sacrifices of service men and women, and was raised by two service people myself, I don't choose to emphasize that element on the fourth (I do that on Memorial Day and Veteran's Day).  On the fourth of July, I choose to focus on great endeavors by Americans that have enhanced our quality of life, deepened our sense of shared culture, expanded our minds, and paved the way for a new future.

I do not mean to suggest that the people on my list were perfect, or had universally noble lives.  But for me, each has added something to my personal world that I appreciate.  I can't offer my full list since it would go on for hundreds of pages, so here are just a handful of Americans that I'm going to call out:

George Washington, mostly for refusing to be king
Martin Luther King, Jr, for promoting civil rights
Edgar Allen Poe, for creepy literature and poetry
Harriet Tubman, for sneaking slaves north, like herself
Jonas Salk, for polio vaccine and other research
John Muir, for institutionalizing conservationism
Nikola Tesla, for incredible and bizarre inventions
Jackie Robinson, told not to fight back for two years and did it 
Clara Barton, for founding the Red Cross

Although I have to add a couple specifically related to my own fields of specialization in astronomy/planetary science/and especially the Moon, like: Gene and Carolyn Shoemaker, Carl Sagan, everybody who made the Moon landings possible ... I could go on for a while ...

So, who are some of the people that would be on your list?  Who has inspired your dreams, from both near and far?

Pax, All

Image Credit: Artist Sarah Noble, Piece Guru Purnima.  Sarah's words - "The next full Moon is Tomorrow, July 3rd. The Moon will be opposite the Sun at at time when we cannot see it (2:52 pm EDT), but will appear full for about 3 days centered on this time, from late Sunday night/early Monday morning through early Thursday morning. This month's painting is from Hindu tradition, this is the Guru Full Moon (Guru Purnima) and is celebrated as a time for clearing the mind and honoring your guru."

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