Leonard Cohen passed away last year at the age of 82. Perhaps no other musical artist brought together more musical genres in their lifetime. Considered by many to be the Godfather of alternative rock, his tribute albums include artists as varied as U2, Nick Cave, Tori Amos, Don Henley and Elton John. In one of his more famous songs “There is a war” he discussed all of the ways we create conflict with each other.
In one verse Cohen says,
There is a war between the rich and poor,
A war between the man and the woman.
There is a war between the left and right,
A war between the black and white,
A war between the odd and the even.
And in another verse,
There is a war between the ones who say there is a war
And the ones who say there isn’t.
But ultimately the song is about these wars being false dichotomies. That conflict in many cases creates our identity. It is its own energy source. Such is the case I believe with “old” space and NewSpace. It is a distinction without relevance nor essence.
I would like to offer a new term to describe what I do think is relevant and essential, “Goodspace.” It represents a way of thinking about the world and humanity. Do you believe that the world is inherently cruel, people are selfish and resources fixed and scarce? Or do you believe that the best of humanity thrives on collaboration, that our best days as a species lie ahead of us, and that we can grow the pie for the benefit of everyone?
These are of course, extremes neither one of which is true in an absolute sense, but I would suggest “Goodspace” lies firmly towards the second category. It is a philosophical mindset, it is a worldview, it is an ethos. Fundamentally though, it can exist easily in the “old” space world and just as easily be void in wide swaths of NewSpace. The point is, the concept of Goodspace exists throughout and is independent of organization size, time in the industry or any other arbitrary distinction we create in our minds.
Going forward, I would encourage all of us to think of space, not in terms of old and new, big and small, government and commercial. Think of it in terms of mentality. Is it optimistic? Is it visionary for what our potential as a species can be? Is it Goodspace? I believe this is the prism we should evaluate space activities through and this should be the standard we hold ourselves to in terms of our personal allocation of time and resources.
Leonard Cohen spanned generations and died at age 82, perhaps hipper and more alternative than when he was 22. He was timeless, like the mission of settling space must be. It is an ethos, not marked by new or old. It is a mindset. It is a consciousness. It is simply, Goodspace.