Not Where, But When

For most of human life, when didn’t matter so much as where, but time–notice it or not– is immutable, unbending and punishing. Whatever you think you understand about it, you will learn that you do not. What is truth today may be forgotten within your life span as the speed of living accelerates beneath you. Not feeling it? Oh, you will.

One hundred years ago, time was still relative. New England churches and town halls held clock towers that governed time within the reach of the sound of its bell chime. Correct time varied as much as fifteen minutes from one small town to the next. It was Sunday, yes, and around 3 PM, yes. But 2:45, 3:00 or 3:15, well who knew? Who cared?

With the advent of railroads, pocket watches, teletype, then radio, later television, and satellites, time was being swiftly sliced into smaller and smaller bits. Internet and smartphones accelerated the interlocking web of time and crushed all sense of place. It no longer mattered where you were, just when.

Now, within one lifetime entire crops of entrepreneurs and robber barons spring up, flower, go to seed and blow away on the wind, replaced by the next. We try to make sense of it. Some try just to grab theirs before it is gone. Old rules don’t apply and new ones haven’t been struck. No matter, they will only need to change again and again.

Unless within someone is a thread we can cling to, to gather around and pull ourselves together before all is lost. Unless we can together reach a new high ground.

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