Ruminations on Civilization and Back-to-School
By Bobby Neal Winters
It is not good for Man to be alone.
That’s what God said.
And it was true, but we all got off behind our cell phones, crouching behind our prejudices, huddling behind our opinions, and we forgot.
We broke our molecular bonds and became atomized. At first it was by choice. People can be difficult.
As this appears in the paper, the university will be starting next week.
To say that life has been interesting since back in March is to be hilarious by understatement provided you have a broad enough definition of hilarious. Statements are made and then, in the twinkling of an eye, common sense turns to idiocy. We have to change; we have to regroup; because we are all trying to do the best we can but we just don’t know.
A civilization is made from connections. It is not enough for one person to learn how to make an arrowhead from flint; he must teach other people how to do it. It is not enough for one person to learn how to weave cloth; she must teach other people to do it. By sharing our knowledge, by sharing ourselves, we become a part of others.
It is not good for Man to be alone, God said. “I will make an help meet for him.”
Adam and Eve got busy and made Cain, Abel, and so forth. You know the story: Just like real life. So there was a family.
Families are good. They are the bricks of civilization. The most basic ways your children learn of how to deal with other people they learn from you in your family. It is terrifying, I know, but that is just the way it is.
Families are the bricks of civilization, but just as a collection of bricks is not a house, a collection of families is not a civilization. Just as mortar binds bricks together in buildings, you need something to tie families together in civilization. There need to be connections between the families.
Something like church provides a good way to do this. You have regular meetings where you get together and take part in a common activity. There is time before and afterward to meet with other families, with other individuals and catch up.
If I am going to keep pressing my analogy with making a building, the churches we belong to, the churches which determine our values, are where we make our load-bearing walls.
You can live in a house that only has load-bearing walls, I suppose, but the purpose of load-bearing walls is to support other things. It is all right there in the name.
To be beautiful, we must have ornamentation. We must put other walls in. The various practices we have are those walls. In my analogy, the universities are such walls. Given my profession, it is very tempting for me to say that the universities form a load-bearing wall, but I cannot support that. Historically, the universities arose from the Church back in the days when it was singular and capitalized. That having been said, they still add a lot: Biology and business; chemistry and construction; music and mathematics; physics and psychology; theater and teaching.
We impart a lot of knowledge, but we also provide connection. Each of the students are connected to the university through the faculty, but the university also provides a crucible where they become connected with each other. Often they find mates at the university, which brings us back to Adam and Eve.
Here we are about to start it all again. One day a time; one step a time. Lift your foot; place it down carefully; make sure your footing is solid and only then take another step.
We will also make frequent glances into the blackness in front of us, looking for that pinpoint of light. We will keep our ears open, listening for the train whistle.
School’s about to start; let’s get back to work.
Bobby Winters, a native of Harden City, Oklahoma, blogs at redneckmath.blogspot.com and okieinexile.blogspot.com. He invites you to “like” the National Association of Lawn Mowers on Facebook. )