Where Do our Children Find Hope (and the Challenger Documentary)

There’s an excellent new documentary about the Challenger shuttle on Netflix. When the Challenger exploded, I was in second grade, so I only vaguely remembered a few pieces: all seven astronauts died, Christa McAuliffe, the confusion and sadness, the setback of the space program, and the O-Rings.

It was fascinating to learn why it failed and to hear the perspectives of the families.  Hard to watch Christa’s 6-year-old daughter Caroline say she didn’t want her mommy to go away.

What struck me the most was the commentary by multiple people that the point of the space shuttle program was to give children in our country hope.

We wanted to project that America was making progress, and everything was going in the right direction. That’s a big part of the reason NASA chose Christa McAuliffe. She was bright, articulate, prepared, conscientious, and cared about her students and children.

Peter Billingsley (who played Ralphie in A Christmas Story) was scheduled for the next shuttle flight as a child star.  And I still get inspired by Ronald Reagan projecting hope and optimism and encouraging us to be the best we could be by God’s grace. It never dawned on me that some of the world’s best scientists, top government officials, celebrities, and educators orchestrated an entire program to give children hope.

But that was 40 years ago.

In the 90s, our culture turned more towards overt cynicism, anger, blame, and depression (i.e., grunge music). And things like optimism and innocence became a joke.

Now my (the Challenger) generation are the adults in the room: What are we giving our children hope in?  Who’s taking that mantle?

Since the Enlightenment, there’s long been a theory that humanity would come out better if we could just advance materialistic science. Suppose we could strip out all “the ancient beliefs” like “religion ?” What a better world we would create. What’s the scoreboard on that?

That chain of thought resulted in the French Revolution, unrestrained chaos, “The Terror,” and massacres of people who disagreed with the fickle opinions of the regime. It also resulted in the deadly 20th century. More people lost their lives in wars than in all the previous centuries combined.   The three biggest perpetrators (in order of body count): Communist China (atheist), Communist Russia (atheist), and Nazi Germany (pagan). (If you’re interested, watch Francis Schaeffer’s “How Should We Then Live?” on Amazon Prime.)

We’re nearing the quarter mark of the 21st century.  How are we doing transmitting hope in the 2020 and 2021 epidemic of the coronavirus? What are we teaching our future generations?

When kids wake up, what do they put their hope in? Posting something on social media so other people click a button?  A video game or movie filled with gore, sexual confusion, and cynicism?

Do we have an obligation to do better? To give hope? What about hope in a Creator that loves you? Hope in a Resurrection, so you don’t have to fear death? Hope in love and kindness? Where is our Joy?

We show up every day at TruPlay to bring light and hope. We’ve had some amazing people join our team out of Nintendo, Disney, Xbox, LeapFrog, Lightside, and many more.  And we’re building something special.  We’re hiring to fill a lot of roles right now. If this is interesting, email us at [email protected], or feel free to DM me.