Saturday, October 25, 2003

End of an Era

It's incredible that our time is so decadent that we can voluntarily retreat from progress. As Concorde makes its final flight, replaced by an aircraft a generation obsolete, other voices screech for an end to the space station and the shuttle program. Ugly buildings are built of concrete, steel, and brick because we are so intellectually broke as a civilization that we shun materials of permanence. We even have new buildings - there are several here in Columbus, including a new fire station down the street from me - that are built with fake bricked-in windows - to me the utter depth of decadence. Social programs are regressing to medieval levels; we have returned to the ancient belief that the poor are poor because they deserve to be so. Can we rise again from the mud and dirt of the streets to look up? Andrew Nahum, a curator at the Science Museum, and David Ashford, director of Bristol Spaceplanes LId, discuss the possibilities in an interesting series of emails published in The Guardian. It's well worth a look, as both men bring up important points. A civilization that looks down is dead. A civilization that looks up survives and thrives. Right now, the Chinese are looking up. Who wants to be ruled by them? Think about it; history is not over, it's an important question.

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