Wednesday, February 7, 2007
Astronaut to Astronut
The recent story about the female astronaut who engaged in degrading and criminal behavior in a fit of jealous rage got me thinking. Why do people find this story so fascinating? I think it's because there has always been a feeling that people who are well trained, disciplined, and intelligent enough to become an astronaut must be model Americans, worthy of admiration and emulation. And to see one fall so low is a disappointment to people (though few want to admit that they're still so naive and idealistic).
Though I don't think we need any more proof, this is one more indication that extremely high intelligence, physical fitness, and success in life are not the equivalent of any kind of moral elevation. Nasa's website talks about what's involved in becoming an astronaut, and it's not easy, by any stretch of the imagination. It seems wondrous that someone with enough discipline and intelligence to pass through that intellectual and physical gauntlet would lower themselves to such depths in a fit of jealous rage. That is, until we remember that intelligence, physical discipline, and hard work do not equal "moral."
If you want to be a good person, and especially a good Jew, you have to strive to do specifically that. Just like you won't become an astronaut by working on becoming a tzadik full time, you will not become a tzadik by working on all-else-but-that full time.