Sunday, March 29, 2009

Edison Hour: Where Would You Rather Live?

This picture has been displayed on numerous blogs.

Capitalist South Korea, the country at the bottom of the picture is ablaze with light at night. Totalitarian North Korea, above it, is in darkness.

Last night, many people and cities participated in the symbolic gesture of sitting in darkness for one hour. As others have pointed out, it is one thing when, at the end of that hour, people can turn the lights back on and go about their lives. They can read, use the computer, watch TV, work on crafts, or enjoy a glass of wine with friends. Electric lights extend our day, giving us the blessing of leisure and participation in hobbies after work. It is again one thing when, during that symbolic hour with the lights off, the water heater is still keeping water for that soothing shower hot; and the furnace is still keeping the room at a constant, comfortable temperature; and the refrigerator is still humming away, keeping the perishable food safe to eat. And of course, people can get in the car and drive to the restaurant for that candlelight dinner; the hospitals still have electricity to start a failing heart and to autoclave the instruments needed for surgery; a woman in labor can use that cell phone charged at an electric outlet to call for assistance; and the taxicabs are still cruising the city to take her to a hospital.

It is entirely another thing to live in a place like North Korea, where there is no leisure after work, and a person considers himself lucky to drop onto a bed much mess luxurious than the Sleep Number with Memory Foam; where there is no perishable food and no refrigerator to keep it safe; where people starve to death, and where a hot shower is an unimaginable luxury. A place where the infant mortality rate is very high, and where death in childbirth is common. A place where an accident that would be easily treated in the industrial West, can lead to death.

Ideas have real consequences.
Economic systems have real consequences.
As Thomas Woods says about our government's economic decisions over the past year, they are "a flight from reality" (From his book Meltdown) .

I will not rehearse all of the arguments about global climate change here; I have discussed them elsewhere in this blog. (See for Example: The End of the World as We Know It and Global Climate Change: Science, Politics, and Ideologies .
However the above picture shows where those who would like to use the idea to declare a crisis are taking us. The science about global climate change is not settled; it is in dispute, as a paradigm like this ought to be.

The above picture is a stark representation of a fundamental difference between ideas their consequences.
Where would you rather live?

I choose not to go back to the dark ages, and I accept responsibility for the way of thinking that modernity requires. I imagine that if ever I stand before the Eternal for judgment, I will be asked, "What new knowledge have you brought into the world?"
For the One who whispers to each blade of grass, "Grow! Grow!" must certainly expect that the human being, endowed with the knowledge of right and wrong, must choose the right, and life. We must continue to use our special faculty, the ability to think and to choose, in order to grow and thrive.

And I celebrate the Edison's of the world, who have stepped forth from the darkness, and shined a beacon of reason that guides us in the direction of a longer, more productive, happier life.

"Blessed is the One who endows the human being with Wisdom, Knowledge and Understanding."

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