Saturday, April 07, 2012

Once Upon a Time

By Keith N Fisher

Please don't click on the backlinks. I didn't put them there and I'm angry about them.

Do you remember, back in the day? When quality of life in the United States was determined by whether you had electricity or not? When your survival aboard a sinking ship was determined by what class you represented and how much money you had?

Of course you don’t recall. There are very few living people who remember the nineteen-thirties. There are none, who, were adults during the first part of the twentieth century.

I remember my grandmother talking about the struggles of the depression and me being grateful for modern day blessings. Because of many recent politically motivated slams on our government and certain parties in particular, I went to the original sources. I wanted to compare what happened then, with our economy now. With special regard to the banking crisis of 2008. I turned to books written fifty and sixty years ago. I discovered the truth about the Great Depression and class segregation.

I learned that, unchecked, history repeats itself. Even some of the company names are the same. While studying in old books, I recalled a scene from The Time Machine, by H G Wells. A time traveler finds a society of humans thousands of years into the future. In the nineteen sixties movie version, He asks about their history and they don’t know. He asks about books, hoping to find answers written there.

“Oh, we have books,” he was told.

When the protagonist is shown the library he finds the books are crumbling. “Yes these books say a lot about you,” he said.

In the narrative by Wells, The traveler discovers the books were part of several museum exhibits. The curious artifacts were common items from the past and the library had crumbled to dust. The wisdom of the ages was lost.

In our day, we pride ourselves on being part of the information age. We can find facts in a second, on the Internet, but, like it or not, much of that information is one sided and contains errors. If you want the truth, go to the original sources.

This is not to say that sources can’t be wrong. The news commentator, Paul Harvey, once joked about something happening while he traveled to England. He had no knowledge of the event, but his network used him as an eye witness account, even though Paul was reading news copy that had been sent to him from back home.

I’d rather trust a few people who were actually there, than Wikipedia every time. I’m fascinated to hear someone tell me I’m wrong about some event or other. Especially when I was a first hand witness to the event. I was there for crying out loud. Yes, I’m getting old and my memory could be clouded, but if several others say the same things, perhaps we should believe it.

There is so much of humanity sitting on the shelves at our local libraries. The richness of information can enlighten us if only we will turn to it. Original sources can protect us from errors and political spin. Find out the truth. Don’t let somebody interpret the facts for you.

In the last scene of the nineteen sixties movie the time traveler’s maid and his best friend have discovered the time machine is gone. The time traveler has evidently returned to the future. The friend wonders what the traveler took with him to help rebuild the human race. The maid looks over the things in the room and discovers three books missing.

“Which three books?” asked the friend.
“I don’t know, does it matter?”
“I suppose not. But, which three books would you take?”

There are hundreds of books in public libraries across the nation. Most of them were written with first hand knowledge of the subject. Many were not. Which three books would you take with you?

Good luck with your writing---see you next week.


Carolyn Twede Frank said...

That's a hard one--as far as fiction goes. I've got so many favorites. The scriptures, for sure--but then they would probably be there in the future because God would still be alive :),
it would just be a matter of the people being willing to find and read them.
Great post. I enjoyed it

Donna K. Weaver said...

I loved that 1960s version of the film. Good question, too. What books would we take? *shivers*