I broke the law yesterday morning. I trespassed.
It wasn’t even five o’clock and my camera and I ignored the multiple Do Not Enter and No Trespassing signs and found myself on the train tracks in Plant City, behind the old train station that is now a museum.
Sure, I could have stayed in the well-lit areas out front but I wouldn’t have been able to get the shots I hankered for and all my fans (LMAO) would have been disappointed.
I imagined conversations with the arresting officers, if I had been discovered. And I don’t think the “all my fans” excuse would have held much water.
Plant City Police are a pretty unmovable force but at least I am white, so hopefully I wouldn’t have been shot before I gave the chance to explain.
The pictures from the track-side captured the pre-dawn blueness to the arriving day, so I was happy with the overall shots.
They are at the end of this short blog, so I hope you enjoy.
As I stood there alone in the presence of some small elements of history, I thought for a moment about rail. And as I drove home, I imagined how big a deal it was at the time.
Rail opened up Florida for commerce and is credited within being the lifeline that developed what would ultimately become one of the most populous states in the union.
And I thought about how big a moment to America, driving the golden spike was. This was the spike that was driven into the last rail tie needed to connect the east of the US with the west.
The year was 1869 and rail was the biggest thing happening in a post-civil war America. It must have been a topic of conversation in every household and twitter feed of the time.
I can’t imagine the difference it made to the functioning of a country which up to that moment relied solely on wagon trains to carry goods and people from one side to the other.
150 years later …. no one even thinks of rail. The vast majority of the population here will have never even been on a train.
There were many other huge moments in history that are now so insignificant that we don’t even teach them in school. Running water and toilets. Telegraphs. Automobile.
Hell, we don’t even have to go that far back in time. How about my very first PC at work. I was at Rockwell International in Chicago and was given a brand new Compaq 286 with a 20MB hard drive. I remember the disbelief in the typing pool outside my office, that I might actually be able to type my own memos. What is the world coming to!
Humanity is nothing, if not innovative.
It is a characteristic that in many ways distracts our parasitic effect on the planet. Particularly our technological revolution … that provides the world with such a distraction that we become blind to the damage we are doing and the scale of how irreparable it is.
We see these doomsday and post-apocalyptic movies, but we are unmoved. I don’t think that it is really that we don’t believe what we are doing to the world. But rather, it is that we don’t care enough to stop doing it.
The lure of our capabilities (travel, technologies, consumption) is strong enough that we are distracted from where we are heading.
It’s kind of like handing out soap as we head into the gas chambers.
So, trust me, I am as infatuated as much as most with our endless developments. I love my digital camera. I enjoy the internet. And without my car, I would be driving my horse crazy with all these early morning starts.
But I do recognize what some of these developments are doing to us and the world. And I am concerned.
While the golden spike connected peoples on both sides of the country and automobiles enabled our ability to get out and experience the wonderful country we live in, developments like the internet and the mediafication (new word, ladies and gentlemen) of opinion on it, are significant.
We have not just effectively isolated large numbers of people away from direct contact with other people, but we allow crazy opinions and conspiracies to polarize them.
(Mediafication – channeling opinions and conspiracies as if they were legitimate and verified news.)
Just because something is an advancement technologically speaking, doesn’t mean it is an advancement for humanity or the planet.
As individuals, we can’t really stop the advancement of anything but we can be careful on how we use them and how we allow them to affect us.
When handed the bar of soap, it is ok to say “no thanks, I’ll wash later.” Being clean is over-rated anyway.
… just a thought.