People tell me that my writing is dark. Sometimes it is. I don’t live in a fairytale world. I take in information sometimes undesirable, I look at the data, and it informs and forms my reality. Many of us, however, are trapped in a false reality. Part of the pain we are experiencing as a country is a fight between what is reality and what is a virtual reality. There are powerful forces at the helm that want us to live in a virtual reality, one that they construct, and offer for purchase. But to choose a virtual reality over what is reality, would be foolish, and self-annihilating.
My frustration arises from our failure to realize our collective power fully. We fail to remember what we have accomplished already in the past. As a result, we collapse into the hopeful safety net of the future. The future, however, offers no such guarantee that it will catch us when we fall. We paved the road that brought us to this point in history. We paved it. We did not wait for a path to be laid by someone else, and then travel down that path to the present? We constructed the road to the present, with great planning, great effort, and even greater sacrifice. What are we capable of now? Have we forgotten how strong and effective we can be as a country?
Highways and Byways
The Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 allowed for the construction of our interstate highway system. We were able to build over 41,000 miles of highway in just 35 years. Fathoming no interstate highway system may be hard. Forget about travel, think about its impact on business and commerce. Adjusted for inflation to 2006 dollars the project would cost a bargain $425 Billion. If you are looking for a reason to believe we can accomplish earth-shattering projects, that transform our country and do it in record time then look no further. When we need to, we can move mountains. We are ready to build again.
We’ve Got the Power
Power to the people, who built over 160,000 miles of transmission lines. That is how many miles of wire that we have installed in the last 135 years. In addition to hundreds of powerplant, transmission stations, transfer stations, and other infrastructure. Much of our power grid, however, was built over 50 years, of course, it took longer to achieve the scale we have today. It stands as yet another example of our ability to accomplish impossible tasks in record time. In a climate where jobs are needed, and job security is vital, huge scale construction projects like this offer us the answers and the motivation that we so desperately seek to transform our future and our economy. We are ready to build again.
Building Bridges that Endure
In 1929, we experienced a crash. But during that same year, we accomplished something that would stand as a reminder for the next 74 years. In 1929 we began and concluded the construction of the Royal Gorge Bridge, in Cañon City, Colorado. It stood as the highest bridge in the world for 71 years. It was also the highest suspension bridge in the world until construction of the Beipan River Guanxing Highway Bridge was completed in China in 2003. We finished the bridge for $350,000, and we did it in 6 months. It took over 70 years to top one of our construction projects that in hindsight seems like a weekend backyard birdhouse build. If we are looking for hope, look no further. Look at what we accomplished long ago. We created, we constructed, we planned, we had a vision, and some of us still do. We are ready to build again.
Reading for the Future
We all know what history is, but can we fully grasp what 100 years means for change. Can we understand the staggering amount of progression or regression that can occur within one or two generations? In 1870 nearly 80% of the black population was illiterate. By 1970 that number had been reduced to less than 4%. Yes, this is an extended period, but the power of bringing literacy to an entire population of people dwarfs the accomplishment of any bridge or road. It is astonishing even to entertain the difficulties of navigating our society while being illiterate. That nightmare was half over after 50 years, and almost a memory after 100. If we were able to accomplish tasks this great in the past, what can we accomplish now? When we see profitability as secondary, and we embrace infrastructure as primary, what can we build? Infrastructure beyond roads and bridges and power systems, but absolutely improving those as well. What foundations can we create for education, security, or for improved relations, or making affordable or free healthcare as ubiquitous as the cell phone? Are we ready to build again?
Connected When We Want to Be
There are roughly 7 billion people on earth, and there are 6.8 billion cell phone subscriptions. Yes, you read that correctly. 96 out of every 100 people on this earth have a cell phone. In 1973 Martin Cooper designed the first cell phone. It weighed over 2lbs and was inoperable in 20 minutes. By 1995 the cell phone was ubiquitous. When motivation is present, we can move with incredible efficiency, effectiveness, and speed. We are ready to build.
Plant in the Spring, to Harvest in the Fall
Our society is experiencing a cold hard winter. Often what I write is cold and dark because it is the nature of the season. But out of a cold, barren winter comes spring. A spring crop, and hopefully a fall harvest, and provisions for the next winter that will inevitably arrive like the clockwork of nature guarantees. There will be no crop, however, and there will be no harvest if we do not plant the seeds. We do not have the time or the luxury for commentary, and virtual conflict, and damn sure not virtual reality. It is time to pour concrete, and lay the foundations for our future. What we have accomplished in the past is minuscule compared to what we are capable of achieving today. We were great, we were. But what made us that way, how do we return? Where do we pour our foundation? Who has the blueprints? Will we be able to forge something that is truly great? Or will we build a bridge to nowhere?
Photo by Anthony DELANOIX
Photo by Biegun Wschodni