On August 30, 2019, John Metelski of Waterford wrote to our columnist, Dr. Art Poland, commenting on Poland’s column in the August Eccentric.
Poland’s reply follows.
I appreciate, and enjoyed reading, your comments. I have replied with my thoughts below, noted with [ ].
Dear Dr Poland –
This is in reference to your comment “A Scientists Perspective On Our Civilization”, p. 45 of the August 22 edition of the Eccentric.
I am cursed with a degree in both pure and applied science (RPI, ’68) and law (GULC ’73). As is evident from those dates, I am old, so I have started to believe some of my reflections on life might be true (Those whom God wishes to destroy, he first makes mad. Euripides)?
[It sounds like we are close to the same age. I like the Euripides quote, I hadn’t seen it before.]
In any event I suggest that the explanation for the “lack of drive” you see in the nation’s youth is a reflection of the state of the nation, i.e., a state of prolonged “peace” reflected in the populace, sort of the Alfred E. Neuman attitude toward studies/work, “What, me worry?”
These imbalances in reality seem to change only upon a unifying cause of which (unfortunately), kinetic conflict seems to be a principle example.
[I think you have struck here on an important aspect of human nature that my wife and I have frequently discussed. People seem to have a need for a unifying force. Major wars do provide such a force. From some of my reading, it is the opinion I have absorbed that the building of the pyramids provided the ancient Egyptian kings such a force. They recruited men from villages up the Nile during the winter to work together to build the pyramids. It seemed to have worked, they had a country and followed its king. I had hoped that the NASA space program and race to the moon would provide such a national and perhaps international unifying force. It did for a while, but then died. We now have nothing, as you state.]
The classroom circumstance of disaffection, laziness, opioid escape may not lend itself to rationality/reason but to a more gross side of humanity, to which I recall what Machiavelli posited 500 years ago,
“You must know there are two ways of contesting, the one by the law, the other by force; the first method is proper to men, the second to beasts; but because the first is frequently not sufficient, it is necessary to have recourse to the second.”
It seems uncanny that those circumstances 500 years ago might relate to the present day, but unfortunately it seems to be the case with our present elected leadership that shows little regard for law but is firmly tapped into the political beast.
Without taking sides I must reflect that this all seems natural and predictable in the family of man species. The unfortunate part is the unpredictable outcome.
[I fear the outcome is too predictable. We are fortunate to have lived during one of the best times in human history. Hopefully I won’t live to see the end.]
Anyway, only my opinion, FYI.
[Much appreciated, Art]