There Used To Be A Planetarium Here
There was once a planetarium here. Now there’s a park.
There was a giant telescope, a dome, and an orrery here. Now there’s a field for every conceivable sport and dozens of playgrounds; the earth is clad in AstroTurf and rubber padding.
This place was once taught adults and children about the white-hot sun, the scorching atmosphere of Venus, the many moons of Jupiter, about Pluto’s status as a (non)planet, and about the mysteries of the far-away Oort cloud.
Now, it teaches kids about how shitty it feels to be picked last by their peers, how to be glory hogs, how to bully their way onto the slide, or connive their group’s way onto the “good” swing set.
Young minds were once broadened here, but no more. Little brains are bludgeoned by baseball bats and helmet-to-helmet collisions. Children’s thoughts become narrowed and deadened. They’re taught only to worship athletic achievement — if they aren’t a 10-year-old Tom Brady or Adrian Peterson, they’re a disgrace to their family.
Meanwhile, already-castrated adult minds are allowed to decay further in this place. Instead of attaining a modicum of scientific literacy, their withered psyches suffer more attrition. If they don’t hoot and holler like brain-addled livestock, they rapaciously hound the coaches about playing time for their superstar-athlete-to-be. Thoughts concerning the Pale Blue Dot’s role in the universe are overshadowed by daydreams about the ESPN highlight reels their kid will be featured in someday.
The mindless braying of helicopter parents echoes from the same exact spot that lectures regarding Alpha Centauri and binary star systems once came from. Insightful queries like “What is my place in the cosmos,” and “How can we colonize Mars,” are no longer asked. They’ve been replaced with the likes of “Why the hell did I take my kids to this park on a crowded Saturday,” and “Why didn’t anyone tell me that you can’t get a decent parking spot after 11:00 on the weekends?”
Here children developed academic interests that lead them to a more profitable, more enriched existence. In current times, it instead sees them develop an insalubrious obsession with athletics that leads only to disappointment, self-doubt, cynicism, and lifelong psychological baggage. The denouement of this process is yet another generation of kids being trotted out onto the park’s football fields, basketball courts, and baseball diamonds to fulfill their parent’s broken dreams.
A person once educated the masses here with their hard-won knowledge of astronomy and astrophysics. The person’s decades of study illuminated thousands minds. Now, a “coach” pretends to be Anytown, USA’s version of Bill Belichick as his little soldiers march off to engage in suburban warfare — youth sports. Parents will fight, kids will cry, but the cosmic ballet will begrudgingly go on, unbeknownst to the flea circus rioting on this one plot of land, on this one incomprehensibly small spec we call “our” planet.
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