20 October 2005

Look Forward / Look Back

You're sitting in Starbucks with your Mocca Chocca Grande Latte, staring out the window at the relentless grey tide of humanity streaming past in the pouring rain. Faced with such as scene, is it any wonder your mind ponders the greyer side of humanity and civilisation?

Well, consider that your Mocca Chocca Grande Latte is half full, and not half empty. If you're willing to do that, consider a random businessman outside the window.

Think about what he's wearing. Think about the materials, the weaving, the cut, the tools, the craftsmanship, the manufacturing technology, the design and the millions of people over the millenia who were necessary to bring clothing technology to the point where that random businessman can buy a wool suit off the peg for £300.

Consider the laptop he's carrying. Again, think about the science, the theory, the testing, the chemistry, the technology, the design, the technicians, the engineers and the trillions of pounds invested over only two decades to take the state of the art from the size of a small house to the size of a large book that costs £500.

Consider also that he is walking down the street with little concern for his safety or wellbeing or the fear of attack. Think about the centuries of law and order, history, social stability, war, diplomacy, courage and sacrifice that allow him to do that.

Think about his trip home. Think about the invention of the wheel, steam locomotion, the internal combustion engine, metalled roads, signalling, policing, aerodynamics and applied thermodynamics that lets him get home withn 24 hours from anywhere on the planet.

Think about when he gets home. Think about governments, the councils, mining, processing, building technology, hot and cold running water, santiation, garbage pickup and the home security that ensures he gets a good nights sleep and doesn't wake up dead.

When you've thought about that, look up. Think about going up and up, out of atmosphere, out of the solar system, out of the galaxy, out of the universe. That mind boggling scale is precisely the scale of human endeavour.

You and the things in the world are the result of all human activity in the millenia to this point. That's pretty amazing.

1 comment:

  1. ...we are all but the fruit of our tree,

    just too bad the American seed is so weak...

    - Patricia Mayo
    Mayo Brains - Spreading Thought