Friday, September 05, 2008

A Sense of Urgency

I wonder if the words below, that came from this interview, make people feel like that undermining the very foundations of our civilization is doable and rewarding?

Many people can get behind the idea of a cataclysmic revolution that will reduce civilization to a smoking ruin overnight, and many others can get behind the idea of a day-long festival of prayer and meditation that will make civilization melt away into nothing like the Wicked Witch of the West. But the idea of undermining civilization's foundations and sapping its titanic strength incrementally as a rewarding, lifelong process is a bit of a shocker.

My high school physics teacher, when talking about mass, said that if you should ever confront a locomotive creeping down the tracks at an inch a second, your intuition will tell you that you can stop it easily just by sticking our your hand. But, even though it's traveling only an inch a second, your intuition is wrong, because its enormous mass will keep on moving forward as if you weren't even there. This is the way it is with our civilization. It has the momentum of two hundred human generations behind it. Its crushing forward movement isn't going to be stopped in a moment, but every hand pressed against it reduces its momentum infinitesimally--and the more hands that are applied to the task, the sooner it will be stopped in its tracks.


Filip T. said...

Excellent quote.

Guess its another reminder for us educators to step up the pace and work together.

Curt said...

Dear Filip T,

You wrote: "Guess its another reminder for us educators to step up the pace and work together"

For me, it's fun to imagine teachers sending notes home to parents explaining how they are going to change the focus of their curriculum to "undermining civilization's foundations" so future generations have a planet to live on.

G said...

I realize this is an incredibly old post, but it still strikes me that all these hands are in fact what tribe is all about. Much that many who try to go it alone find that they can't hack it by themselves, and that man is a social animal for very good reason.

Educators are pulled along behind that train as much as anyone else, and as much as they might drag their feet on the ground thinking to help slow it, at some point they will have to get out and help push or they will be just as responsible for the inevitable cliff-diving ahead as anyone else.