I’m sure all of us who support space exploration and colonization hear this a lot. Do we really deserve to colonize other planets when we can’t seem to figure out our problems at home? Are we just going to screw up Mars by colonizing it? Maybe we immature, violent, bald apes should just stay home and scratch our fleas while we figure out which small mammal we’re going to eat this time.

However, I happen to think that it’s unfair to punish the best of us who actually care about the future of the human race just because certain people can’t seem to figure out what they want out of life and just end up lashing out at everybody. The common element of those of us who are actually serious about applying for Mars One and the people who have fought to send humans to new worlds for decades is that we believe that there is something deep down about humanity that is worth saving. Even at the worst of times, one does hear stories about people who put their lives on the line to help people who need it. Do pioneers like us deserve to be trapped on Earth with those who cannot think beyond the needs of today and those who can sacrifice the well-being of Earth to make a profit? As long as it’s clear that we’re volunteering for this chance, I don’t see the use of forcing the best of us to stay on Earth if we have the opportunity to colonize Mars.

We’re going to colonize Mars whether we “deserve” to or not. It’s a matter of who is going to colonize. China is beginning to make waves with their space program by landing a rover on the Moon with the intention of following it up with manned landings. A Mars mission is not entirely out of line for somebody who can pull that off. SpaceX founder Elon Musk wants to bring the cost of colonizing Mars down to the point where it doesn’t cost much more per individual than one of those carefully manicured and moderately spacious houses in a good neighborhood in one of the larger cities. You tell me which 80,000 rich people you want to have as next-door neighbors if you happen to live on Mars. Should space travel remain a game for the very rich or the job of those who can pass NASA’s rigorous standards? Can it be a good thing for the average person to have a shot at going to Mars? Those are questions that Mars One hopes to answer through its selection process. Perhaps they will find the four who can make the best ambassadors to another world simply by being ordinary people who can dream big and actually care about what happens to humanity.

It’s not likely that we will ever get perfect conditions right here on Earth. You show me a city where every individual is a happy and productive person and there is no crime, poverty or hunger, and I’ll show you a city where the leadership is slipping tranquilizers into the water supply and suppressing any sign of malcontents. Colonizing Mars has been called a fresh start where we can leave behind a lot of the baggage that comes with being an Earthling. We may be better off not thinking of ourselves as all the labels that have been used to divide the human species. That means not making a huge deal out of all the things that used to matter. Those of us who can do that will be more likely to make the cut as future Martians.

The Case For Mars

This should be required reading for anyone who has ever gotten into an argument with somebody over whether colonizing other planets is even worth spending money on.