Editorial: Apollo doctor shows the power of dreaming big

His legacy is something that should give inspiration to small-town dreamers the world over.

One of the most memorable events at the Lake Cowichan 75th anniversary celebrations was hearing from Dr. Bill Carpentier.

His legacy is something that should give inspiration to small-town dreamers the world over.

From a modest upbringing in our very own Lake Cowichan, Carpentier went from a childhood of swimming on the lake, to becoming part of the team that sent the Apollo to the moon and back.

His dreams took him from flying lessons to medical school, then to the U.S. space program. There were plenty of obstacles in his way, but summers swimming in Cowichan Lake proved to be the final key to Carpentier’s place in history.

Our collective dreams seem to have gotten small since then, and there seem to be more naysayers now than problem solvers. We need more dreamers like Carpentier and the rest of the team that made space flight a reality.

In fact, we need big dreamers more than ever.

Not so many years ago, as Carpentier and the Apollo remind us, space flight seemed an impossibility to many around the world. The very idea of being able to send a person into space, let alone bring them back to Earth safe and sound, was scoffed at as nothing more than a grandiose fantasy. Until we did it.

Just as solving the problems that now face us, like climate change, are shrugged off by too many as something that we cannot do anything about. That action is somehow futile. If we’d accepted this kind of self-defeating thinking 50 years ago, we would not be talking about the Apollo moon landing. And if we’d accepted this kind of self-defeating thinking in the 1980s and 1990s we’d still be talking about the problems with holes in the ozone layer.

If we give in to the naysayers and the deniers we paralyze ourselves.

All too often we limit ourselves, allowing our dreams to be circumscribed by our own fears and inertia. But now we need to take another great leap forward. Carpentier shows us that as small as we may be, with work and determination we, too, can be leaders.

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