Wednesday, May 16, 2012

An Old Guy's View Of Mankind

Many years ago, I'm thinking it was when I had children yet to be born, and when TV was mostly black and white, some news program I was watching had dug up an "old philosopher"...a fellow with strong opinions, a person, I suppose, very like me, except he was much older and seems not to have had much formal schooling.

Among the things he said, the one (and the ONLY one) I remember is, "Man ain't got no business going up around "Sput-Nick" and stuff like that.  He ain't powerful enough!"

Believe me, if the old feller had said "He ain't SMART enough", instead of, "He ain't powerful enough", I might have become a loyal fan.  Mankind is powerful well beyond the ability to reason.  We are so willing to think that we can do anything with no concern for the consequences.

Sitting among the flints on the lakeshore can inspire dreams...One can sit for hours fantasizing about the diminutive worlds they represent.  What were the dreams of the first homo sapiens who sat among the flints and said, "Hey, I think I can use this!.  I can make tools and weapons to make my dreary existence better!  I can invent technology!"...?


We can never really know, can we?  We can only guess, and continue to study, and have dreams of our own as we try to imagine.


Then, we can look up from this primitive dreamworld and see where we are now.....  
To me, this expanse of liquid sustenance is full, but those who are supposed to know such things say "only about half a foot to go".

It almost brings a tear to my eye that soon it may be overflowing, or may be much depleted.  If the forces of nature do not provide more, it could easily be very, very low by the end of summer.  Such is the need for water to sustain our lifestyle today.

My wife's mother would  tell the story of when she visited her grandmother as a girl, grandma would hand each of the kinder a teacup of water in the evening with orders to "take a bath".  My dad's Uncle Fred owned a house in Rosenberg, but he also had a few farms in different places, and when I was about six, Uncle Fred and Aunt Annie were living on a farm near Kenedy.  Even now, whenever I pass through Kenedy, I find myself looking down roads that we pass, wondering if I could spot a landmark that could give me a clue to the location of that long ago farm.  Uncle Fred's lights were powered by electricity produced onsite with an Aermotor windmill generator connected to 6v storage batteries.   In those days, people often needed no more electricity than required to power lights and a family radio.  Imagine, if you will, how little that could do for us today.  Uncle Fred's water came from a shallow well through the power of a hand pump.  Of course, by the time I was nine, he was back in Rosenberg, with all the comforts of big city life, but that's somewhat irrelevant to this tale of what we've done  to ourselves.

From before I was born until I was approaching middle age, a cap on the price of gasoline was enforced by our Federal Government.  I feel pretty sure that it was because of this, that citizens gradually moved from public transportation to a "family car", to households where everyone "required" his own automobile.  The once valuable public transportation became intolerable to the "average" citizen...at least here in Texas it has.

I also think that it was this gasoline subsidy of the twentieth century that stifled the development of electric and steam powered vehicles, and even some of the more adventurous alternative fuel vehicles that we're slowly trying to figure out nearly forty years after our addiction to gasoline became something to consider.

There are so many things besides petroleum and water that we have come to squander, with little thought other than our own "immediate needs" of what we're doing to ourselves.  I can't begin  to consider them all.

I'm very fond of living in comfort myself, but when "the city" tells us we need to turn up our thermostats, turn out lights we're not using, and limit our lawn watering to avoid their having to build more facilities they can't afford, I'm happy to say, "Maybe I'm smart enough to give it a try."


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