Friday, November 11, 2011

History Lessons

   It is a reality of life that if you were born in a different time or in a different location, maybe just a different day, then you would be a totally different person.  We are so much a product of circumstances.  Oh, somewhere in there is me, I think, but that me even changes from day to day.  I have taken up reading again, historical books this time, old letters, speeches from Colonial America, stories from the Industrial Revolution,
our own Westward Expansion, Religious Influence on American History, that sort of thing.  If I had been born in Nairobi or Asia somewhere I might be reading different books.  I am always curious why I think the way I do, what has influenced me.
   The interesting thing is that you do not need to read any of these books for History to play a roll in your life.  It does, believe me, whether you read it or not.  Where we were born, how we were raised, the schools we went to, the friends we have accumulated, the things we have done all determine what we will do.
   Society seems to be going through another fundamental change maybe as significant as the Industrial Revolution in the Eighteenth Century brought on by the invention of the Steam Engine and the Cotton Gin.
Before then most of the World was agrarian living off the land and at the mercy of the elements.  That wasn't an easy transition either.  It brought women and children into the workplace, in crowded conditions, often tied to the machines they were operating.  Cities were created and no one thought to install sewers.  It was a long process full of perils and hardships but led the way to Women's Suffrage, public education, better wages
and a long list of good things to come after the bad.
   It freed us from the land and offered us a surplus, energy and money that could be put to other things than just plain survival.  It changed politics all over the world.  It created Revolutions from here to France and beyond.
   As all of this progressed it gave us choices.  We could work on the farm or in the city.  Agriculture and Industry competed for our labor and wages grew.  As manufacturing thrived we could compete there too and it was pretty easy to get a job, going from one factory to another we could mostly find employment.
Henry Ford grew rich making automobiles, creating a production line and churning them out like peanut butter sandwiches.  He was a clever industrialists and not from any sense of fairness but just good economic policy, he paid his workers enough that they could afford to buy the cars that they were making.  His best customers were on the factory floor!  To keep their workers, other factories had to do the same.
   I think there are different kinds of people, different temperaments, suited to do different things.  Or maybe we are suited to do different things at different times in our lives?
Times are changing.  We are losing 50,000 manufacturing jobs each month.  Factories in the United States are closing every day.  Clearly this is bad for the economy but, but maybe even worse, it is bad for us.  We have lost that "freedom of employment", our sense of empowerment, our freedom to choose our work and maybe our identities with it.  If we are what we do it can't be nice to be doing nothing.  Or with no alternative, to be trapped in a job that we hate.
   History is interesting, how we get to where we are is always interesting.  One step in a different direction, a slight change in the weather can make all the difference as to who we are and how we think.

Yesterday I got "pic of the day" HERE!


conservativelybohemian said...

Very interesting post, Jerry and a whirlwind succinct lesson on the Industrial Revolution. Indeed indeed.

stonepost said...

Thank you dear, I think it put most people to sleep.