For two nights, my neighborhood reverted to a Third World country.
Tropical Storm Isaias swept in this week, sweeping away the modern world. Storms and trees work well together, especially when electric service is provided by overhead wires. It doesn’t take much to send humans back to the Stone Age. Within one hour of its arrival, the storm robbed us of lights, refrigeration, cooking appliances, air conditioning, and entertainment.
Isaias, according to a search, is the Latin form of Isaiah the Jewish prophet. He predicted the end times, and it sure looked that way as the storm wreaked havoc last week.
We take so much for granted in our country. Liberty and justice may be what we espouse, but it’s electricity we need – as well as natural gas, gasoline, clean water, sewers, television, food, medicine, and a source of income. And we need them 24/7, which means roads, trucks, trains, airplanes, schools, hospitals, and even police. It means a nation at peace with itself, with honest and effective public servants. How many countries in the world have achieved those standards?
Given the chance, I would guess that half the global population would abandon their dysfunctional countries to settle in the Western World. They would not come for freedom or religion. They would come for peace and tranquility, and all the basics. From the Islamic and Hindu worlds, from Africa top to bottom, from Red China and southeast Asia, from anyplace South of the Border, they would gladly come to the “racist” West – home of White privilege.
We should all be appalled by the systemic whining that sees no value in what was created over 3,000 years by the West. People whose ancestors struggled merely to stay alive for millennia have the gall to claim that the modern world, with all the creature comforts they enjoy, was created by dumb luck and the exploitation of the weak. One politician in Illinois has even suggested that history no longer be taught since it is a litany of White supremacy.
Columbus, it is argued, may have unified the globe but anybody else could have done it. Edison and Tesla may have electrified the world but someone else could have done it. Morse and Marconi may have revolutionized communication, but someone else would have done it eventually. Willis Carrier may have invented air conditioning, but it was bound to happen anyway. The mechanical reaper and tractor may have been White inventions that fed the world, but anybody could have invented them. The list goes on and on.
The modern age wasn’t dumb luck. It was built on a foundation of Greek science and Roman engineering that evolved despite nature and superstition. It was nursed by two hundred years of Augustan Peace that allowed the Roman Empire to exchange knowledge and maintain prosperity among 80 million diverse peoples on three continents. To be sure, it was a long and difficult journey to achieve our modern world. And, it spread from Europe to the Americas and ultimately to the rest of the world.
The Roman engineer Vitruvius once compared life-giving aqueducts to the “useless” pyramids. Such was the difference in the cultures of ancient Egypt and Italy. The same can be said of other ancient civilizations around the world – they may have produced high degrees of thought and wealth, but they never generated the industry and creativity that the West did.
The Chinese invented printing and paper, but it was the West that transformed society with them. The Indians may have invented “Arabic” numerals, but the Romans built cities and infrastructure without them. Western minds had few shackles to stifle progress. Even the dogmatic Church ultimately acceded to scientific inquiry and free thought. Capitalism and competition did the rest. Such things did not occur to this degree in other societies. If we rule out a racial cause for these differences then it must be a cultural one, linked to a chain of progress unique to Europe and carried over to America by Columbus.
What fanatic, these days, would have us go back to the pre-modern age? They would have us restore a medieval mentality but they would not give up their cell phones and air conditioning.
I fear more those who would deny Western enlightenment by rewriting history to hide their own lack of innovation. Let them, instead, curse the darkness that would have been! -JLM