Hope for a better future

Charles Powell

I had a friend point out to me my love for the early history of our county. I have come to understand a lot of people can find the past boring. I find it revealing.

The world today moves at a faster pace than ever before. There is a push to go faster still.

Communication zips by faster while too often language is truncated into snippets like “sup”. I found “what’s up” annoying to shorten it further is asinine to me.

All of these trends build on things, which have come before from the progression of the ancient trade routes like the Silk Road and the ancient seafarers on the Mediterranean Sea to Polynesians on the Pacific Ocean ideas rippled out and spread for good and ill.

Eventually horse and sail became obsolete with the development of the steam engine now the waters could be crossed faster, while the iron horse chugged across the land.

Soon these too became passé as the telegraph, telephone, radio and television were introduced.

There are so many ways for people to talk now, but I question how much is heard.

Recently I heard a quote of George Bernard Shaw on the matter. “The problem with communication is the illusion it has occurred.”

For me this is deeply thought provoking. I have fun afoul of it far too often in my own life and I see it time and time again in the interplay of people whether in one nation or between them.

The story of the Cuyahoga River reveals a lot of this to me. Its name means crooked river so named by Native Americans given possibly by the Erie or Haudenosaunee perhaps more commonly known as the Iroquois.

It is the only river I know of which has been set afire on multiple occasions. I would think a river burning once would have sent so many alarm bells off immediate changes would be made.

Henry David Thoreau is quoted as saying, “The path of least resistance makes for crooked rivers and crooked men.”

The Cuyahoga became flammable because of all the sewage and industrial waste, which was allowed to flow into the water from the 1800s to 1969 callous disregard for long- term impact turned a river into a tinderbox.

I had heard about the Cuyahoga River burning years ago and it came to mind because of the attack in Boston. The two probably seem incredibly remote from each other.

However, they fit together in my mind because in both instances people simply disregarded the sanctity of life in egregious ways.

A fire burning on a river should have communicated horrible things are happening and steps must be taken to correct it.

The bombing apparently was meant to protest America’s ongoing wars.

It was a senseless act like so many others, which have occurred recently.

There are far too many instances of people brutalizing each other in the annals of history. Lessons, which should have been learned long ago or perhaps, have to be re-learned constantly.

What gives me hope is society does have a way of moving forward.

If you wander along the hallway near the offices of the history, economic and political science professors on the second floor in the college complex of Los Medanos College there are many quotations. One of them by Thomas Jefferson reads, “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.”

I hope people will learn to communicate more effectively. Live more peacefully and these outburst of violence be relegated to unrepeated history. May there be more random acts of kindness. Thank you to all the unsung people who do them.