I awoke at 3:56 a.m. No, that’s not quite right. That’s when I got out of bed. I awoke a short while before that. I got out of bed at 3:56 a.m.

Subsequent to abandoning my effort to sleep until daybreak, I thought about how the world has changed since I was a child. The advent of the internet gave rise to our addiction to 24/7 instant access to news and rumor and manipulative misinformation. The internet is just the latest technology to rip our lives apart. Television, radio, automobiles, airplanes, printing presses, the cotton gin, steam locomotives…the list seems endless. Every radical new technology-enabled capability seems to have altered life as we once knew it. I wonder whether life on earth—both human and otherwise—has been improved by all these transformations. There’s no way to perform an unbiased analysis, of course. In many ways, technology has magnified and enabled humans’ ability to do damage to the planet and ourselves. We’re probably less connected to the earth that we’ve ever been. And that’s unfortunate because that tenuous connection makes us less likely to consider the effects of our actions on everything around us.

We can never return to”the ways things used to be.” We can only learn from our experiences and attempt to create a future built on the best of what we’ve learned. The national, even global, conversation isn’t about building a future. Instead, it’s about tearing down a past. I wish I knew how to change the direction of the conversation. I’ve spent the better part of two hours ruminating on the subject. I am no closer to knowing now than I was when I awoke. But I’ve had two more cups of coffee than I’d had when I awoke, so I suppose I’ll call that progress.

About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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