Thursday, May 29, 2003

Hillary & Norgay, Armstrong & Aldrin:

Today is the 50th anniversary of the climbing of Everest, as I'm sure the incessant trumpeting by the media has reminded you.

I realized that we are lucky that the men who achieved this feat, and that of the moon landing sixteen years later (which we will celebrate on July 20), were all extremely humble men. Hillary and Armstrong received most of the acclaim, and they both similarly were unimpressed, and more importantly, unchanged by the attention. Norgay and Aldrin, who shared equally in the hardships and danger, were gracious in accepting their media-given second place ribbons.

I can only wonder how differently things would have turned out if they had been more similar to so many others in the mountaineering and astronaut corps, arrogant and cocky.

Perhaps it is the adventure itself which accentuates this behaviour in people pre-disposed to it. Or perhaps these activities draw precisely those personality types. Does the drive you need to achieve these exploits necessarily mean you have to treat mortals with disdain? Sir Edmund, "Tiger" Tenzing, Neil and Buzz clearly say "no."