NASA Internal Memo From Shuttle Program Manager Wayne Hale: Life

Status Report From: Johnson Space Center
Posted: Monday, April 23, 2007


From: "Hale, N W. (JSC-MA)"
Date: Mon, 23 Apr 2007 13:54:36 -0500
To: [A hundred people]
Conversation: Life
Subject: Life

John Donne said it best, four hundred years ago:

"No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is apeece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for who the bell tolls; It tolls for thee."

I am writing this to all of our team who are remote from Houston.  This is a tragedy for all of us.  David Beverly was a true expert in EEE parts who was instrumental in keeping the shuttle safe, participating frequently in all kinds of technical meetings, and providing professional and accurate information and judgement.  He also was critical to the International Space Station program helping most recently in their electronics problems with the Thermal Rotary Joint Motor Controller.

It is incomprehensible that media including the talking heads on television are spouting imagined simplifications for the tragedy when they neither knew the people nor the circumstances.  People are complex, their thinking is complex, and it takes time to understand and reach out.

What is emerging is that the troubled individual who shot David Beverly and then took his own life had nobody to help him with his problems.  A man with no close family, no close friends, no hobbies, and only his work.  When there was the slightest threat to his work, he could not cope.  

Please don't let your co-workers suffer alone.  Metal detectors and car searches will not prevent this type of tragedy.  Workplace violence, murder/suicide happen almost daily in this country.  The only was to prevent a tragedy is to build a support network for those in need.  

Today, tell your friends how much you appreciate them.  Give your family an extra hug.  Tomorrow make sure that the words you use are caring, not laced with sarcasm or bitterness.  Take care of yourself, it can be a hard life. Know what the person at the desk next to you is going through.  Don't let them be alone.  We'll only make it if we take care of each other.  

Wayne Hale

Devotions upon Emergent Occasions [1624] by John Donne

Meditation XVII

Perchance hee for whom this Bell tolls, may be so ill, as that he knowes not it tolls for him; And perchance I may thinke my selfe so much better than I am, as that they who are about mee, and see my state, may have caused it to toll for mee, and I know not that. The Church is Catholike, universall, so are all her Actions; All that she does, belongs to all. When she baptizes a child, that action concernes mee; for that child is thereby connected to that Head which is my Head too, and engraffed into that body, whereof I am a member. And when she buries a Man, that action concerns me: All mankinde is of one Author, and is one volume; when one Man dies, one Chapter is not torne out of the booke, but translated into a better language; and every Chapter must be so translated; God emploies several translators; some peeces are translated by age, some by sicknesse, some by warre, some by justice; but Gods hand is in every translation; and his hand shall binde up all our scattered leaves againe, for that Librarie where every booke shall lie open to one another: As therefore the Bell that rings to a Sermon, calls not upon the Preacher onely, but upon the Congregation to come; so this Bell calls us all: but how much more mee, who am brought so neere the doore by this sicknesse. There was a contention as farre as a suite, (in which both pietie and dignitie, religion, and estimation, were mingled) which of the religious Orders should ring to praiers first in the Morning; and it was determined, that they should ring first that rose earliest. If we understand aright the dignitie of this Bell that tolls for our evening prayer, wee would bee glad to make it ours, by rising early, in that application, that it might bee ours, as wel as his, whose indeed it is. The Bell doth toll for him that thinkes it doth; and though it intermit againe, yet from that minute that that occasion wrought upon him, hee is united to God. Who casts not up his Eye to the Sunne when it rises? but who takes off his Eye from a Comet when that breakes out? Who bends not his eare to any bell, which is passing a peece of himselfe out of this world? No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine owne were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whome the bell tolls; It tolls for thee. Neither can we call this a begging of Miserie or a borrowing of Miserie, as though we were not miserable enough of our selves, but must fetch in more from the next house, in taking upon us the Miserie of our Neighbours. Truly it were an excusable covetousnesse if wee did; for affliction is a treasure, and scarce any man hath enough of it. No man hath affliction enough that is not matured, and ripened by it, and made fit for God by that affliction. If a man carry treasure in bullion, or in a wedge of gold, and have none coined into currant Monies, his treasure will not defray him as he travells. Tribulation is Treasure in the nature of it, but it is not currant money in the use of it, except wee get nearer and nearer our home, Heaven, by it. Another man may be sicke too, and sick to death, and this affliction may lie in his bowels, as gold in a Mine, and be of no use to him; but this bell, that tells me of his affliction, digs out, and applies that gold to mee; if by this consideration of anothers danger, I take mine owne into contemplation, and so secure my selfe, by making my recourse to my God, who is our onely securitie.

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