When I finished undergrad, I went on a long backpacking trip by myself to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. I took a copy of Walden and a copy of “Theory of Games and Economic Behavior” to read. I also took my notebook, which I ended up writing in quite a bit. Below are unrevised typed versions of some of the things that I wrote.
The little fish stays amongst the rocks and the shallows and forever remains in its safe little world. Its whole existence is there. It is born there, it lives there, and it dies there. And yet it never realizes that is lives within a small portion of a much larger lake.
What joy there is in leaving the safe haven of the rocks and the shallows and venturing into the world. What happiness there is in facing the world and relying on yourself for survival.
Nature and Tech
Everything here is so, though I hate to say it, natural. There is more to it than that though. The wind and the waves beat on the rocks and shore as they ever have. The fish eat the bugs and the eagles eat the fish as they have for ages.
The trees grow, die, fall, and are recycled back into the earth as they have done for millennia. The better word to describe this place is “uninterrupted”. Humans have not yet soiled its primordial beauty. Given time, I am sure that we will, but for now it is still pristine. None of the natural cycles here care about any of modern man’s worries. What is the stock market trend to a wild blueberry? What is the newest human war to a fir tree? The Earth here is far more wise than any human will ever be.
It allows only the strongest to prosper and sheds no tears for the weak. It does not concern itself about its neighbors, it does what it must. It obeys no other mortal’s laws; it only does what is has done since its birth and knows is right.
To come here and sit and watch is to attend a lecture on the inferiority of man. This is the world’s classroom, taught by the best in the field and yet how many come to learn this free lesson? How far has man fallen that to observe the natural order of things and learn is considered not only a chore, but a backsliding to “more primitive” life? Can a television tell you how to navigate a river current? Can an ipod teach you what soil is best for a cedar? Let just one generation be taught here instead of modern schools and see how much more civilly they treat their fellow man. See how much more they can do without the aid of a transistor. Not all technology is to blame for the downfall of man, who was once poised to be masters of this planet. Contemporary medicine is a prime example of technology doing good. This is the only instance of this trend that I can think of though.
But you say “surely computers do good? They help predict storms and do computation lightning quick. They allow us to talk to people all around the world.”
To this I say, nay shout “NO!” What computer is better than the human brain? The best computer today with the most efficient programming can do exactly one task almost as good as a rat. As for predicting storms, the most wizened farmer can tell when a storm is approaching just by observing the world around him. Imagine a world where every single person could do the same. As for computation, who needs to know the factors of some 1000 digit number? If all men treated each other with respect, there would be no thievery and no need for encryption. An honest man need only be able to count to a few hundred and add, subtract, multiply, and divide numbers at most that too and just lump the rest. If every man earned his own, who needs to know what percent they need to pay in taxes for there would be none who needed public support. For communication purposes, how much talk is just meaningless drivel of speech? How much correspondence is gossip and propaganda? Instead, let a man think about what it is that he wants to say, and mull it over enough so that it is perfectly clear, and then, and only then, if he feels that it absolutely must be shared, let him write is so that others may read it when they wish.
Better still, let the man travel and give his message in person. Would any prophet’s message have been as powerful if is was sent to others as an email? No, the prophets went out and spoke to men, face-to-face or face-to-faces. Technology has become an unneeded crutch for mankind. Man has become a tool to the very thing which began as his tool. We are so buried in the mire of diodes and resistors, ipods and computers, tv’s, microwaves and toasters that even just one hour without electricity stirs the hive of modern humanity into a craze. Light a candle, open your eyes, and act to prevent the demise of human kind; For it is only one massive power outage away.