History's longest argument has been over what to do about the mountain. One group has always wanted to cross the mountain, to explore and see what is on the other side.
The other group, no less sincere, has been willing to let well enough alone. They worry there might be things on the other side of the mountain we don't want to know.
They were the ones who refused to look through Galileo's telescope. They already knew all they needed to know about the moon and sun and stars.
Some will argue that the debate over stem cell research is more complicated than that.
But there is no argument about what history teaches. The store of knowledge increases when one generation is free to explore and build on what the previous generation has learned.
The ancient Chinese invented gun powder and set it afire to ward off evil spirits. But the next generation harnessed its explosive power in a container and created the cannon. Later generations built on that and produced the internal combustion engine.
Science tells us the next step in stem cell research may yield cures for crippling diseases and ease the pain and suffering of millions.
Are we not obligated to see what is on the other side of this mountain?
History argues yes. The President says it is the hardest decision he will ever make.
But if he reads history, he will know that history remembers those who climbed the mountain, not those who stayed home in fear of the unknown.
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