It is truly sad, but there are some people out there – perhaps more than I’d like to believe, who apply labels to others in an attempt to keep them from achieving their dreams. We all win when someone breaks the mould and flies high. Today, 16 June 2013, is the 50th anniversary of Soviet cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova piloting Vostok 6 into space. On 16 June 1963, she became the first women in space, and not as a passenger, either – but as a fully trained, capable space-farer.
According to the Wikipedia entry for General-Major Tereskova (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Valentina_Tereshkova), who was know by her airforce handle “Sea Gull,” she has another very interesting distinction (among many). After her two day 1963 space flight she married Cosmonaut Andrian Nikolayev, who flew twice in space himself. Their daughter, Dr. Elena Andriyanovna, is the only person to have parents who were both space travellers (at least so far).
Since General-Major Tereshkova’s ground-breaking (or should I write “space-breaking” instead) flight 50 years ago, a total of 56 women have flown in space. The largest number of these have been aboard the US Space Shuttle, and Canada is very proud to have had two women astronauts to date, too (Dr. Roberta Bondar and Julie Payette).
These path-finding women prove that categories such as male and female do not limit or define what we can do as humans. At least, they should not. Unfortunately for many people, these categories and others such as ethnicity, spiritual or religious tradition, nationality, sexual orientation, or physical or mental abilities, are used as labels to define – and curtail – the aspirations of others. That kind of limited thinking is a form of bullying that our world cannot afford any longer. Let’s hope that the legacy of “Sea Gull” and all space pioneers is a world where our frontiers as individuals and as a species are not limited by anything other than the sizes of our hearts as we rise to meet challenges and fulfil our own potentials.
Copyright © 2013 David Allan Galbraith