Giants Were in the Earth

I think a quick detour into the culture war is needed. Not the one on the streets with Scoldilocks and Extinction Rebellion, both are mere symbols of a discredited left, hopefully soon to die. But real culture.

The Unit yesterday called my attention to an article by Victor Davis Hanson in Townhall. Even for him, it’s exceptionally good. It’s titled: Members of Previous Generations Now Seem Like Giants.

Many of the stories about the gods and heroes of Greek mythology were compiled during Greek Dark Ages. Impoverished tribes passed down oral traditions that originated after the fall of the lost palatial civilizations of the Mycenaean Greeks.

Dark Age Greeks tried to make sense of the massive ruins of their forgotten forbearers’ monumental palaces that were still standing around. As illiterates, they were curious about occasional clay tablets they plowed up in their fields with incomprehensible ancient Linear B inscriptions.

We of the 21st century are beginning to look back at our own lost epic times and wonder about these now-nameless giants who left behind monuments that we cannot replicate, but instead merely use or even mock.

Does anyone believe that contemporary Americans could build another transcontinental railroad in six years?

Think about that, they built a railroad in six years, from Omaha to San Francisco, using shovels, horses, gunpowder, and their backs. The most powerful machine they had was a steam locomotive that probably had less power than the last semi-truck you saw.

Then think about California this week, over a million people do not have electricity because PG&E is not allowed to trim trees but is required to pay for fires caused by not trimming trees and clearing underbrush.

In my youth, I knew men, and my own father was one of them, that built entire electrical distribution systems, in the midst of the depression, training farm boys to do the work, and working with mostly hand tools. Their work is one of the hidden reasons we won the Second World War, both because of the increased food available, and the reduced workforce necessary on the farms. One of his contemporaries built the entire Investor-owned gas and electric utility that serves Northern Indiana in that same time frame.

There were indeed giants in the earth.

Could we do any of these things now? Frankly, I doubt it. Yesterday someone commented that we are perhaps approaching the fourth turning. One hopes so. If you don’t know, the short form of that is this:

“Hard times create strong men.

Strong men create good times.

Good times create weak men.

And, weak men create hard times.”

Well, we, or at least you young folks, will see.

In the 1940s, young people read William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Pearl Buck and John Steinbeck. Are our current novelists turning out anything comparable? Could today’s high-school graduate even finish “The Good Earth” or “The Grapes of Wrath”?

True, social media is impressive. The internet gives us instant access to global knowledge. We are a more tolerant society, at least in theory. But Facebook is not the Hoover Dam, and Twitter is not the Panama Canal.

Our ancestors were builders and pioneers and mostly fearless. We are regulators, auditors, bureaucrats, adjudicators, censors, critics, plaintiffs, defendants, social media junkies and thin-skinned scolds. A distant generation created; we mostly delay, idle and gripe.

“Who were these people who left these strange monuments that we use but can neither emulate nor understand?”

In comparison to us, they now seem like gods.

These men:

THE Sons of Mary seldom bother, for they have inherited that good part;
But the Sons of Martha favour their Mother of the careful soul and the troubled heart.
And because she lost her temper once, and because she was rude to the Lord her Guest,
Her Sons must wait upon Mary’s Sons, world without end, reprieve, or rest.

It is their care in all the ages to take the buffet and cushion the shock.
It is their care that the gear engages; it is their care that the switches lock.
It is their care that the wheels run truly; it is their care to embark and entrain,
Tally, transport, and deliver duly the Sons of Mary by land and main.

They say to mountains, ” Be ye removèd” They say to the lesser floods ” Be dry.”
Under their rods are the rocks reprovèd – they are not afraid of that which is high.
Then do the hill tops shake to the summit – then is the bed of the deep laid bare,
That the Sons of Mary may overcome it, pleasantly sleeping and unaware.

They finger death at their gloves’ end where they piece and repiece the living wires.
He rears against the gates they tend: they feed him hungry behind their fires.
Early at dawn, ere men see clear, they stumble into his terrible stall,
And hale him forth like a haltered steer, and goad and turn him till evenfall.

To these from birth is Belief forbidden; from these till death is Relief afar.
They are concerned with matters hidden – under the earthline their altars are
The secret fountains to follow up, waters withdrawn to restore to the mouth,
And gather the floods as in a cup, and pour them again at a city’s drouth.

They do not preach that their God will rouse them a little before the nuts work loose.
They do not teach that His Pity allows them to leave their job when they damn-well choose.
As in the thronged and the lighted ways, so in the dark and the desert they stand,
Wary and watchful all their days that their brethren’s days may be long in the land.

Raise ye the stone or cleave the wood to make a path more fair or flat;
Lo, it is black already with blood some Son of Martha spilled for that !
Not as a ladder from earth to Heaven, not as a witness to any creed,
But simple service simply given to his own kind in their common need.

And the Sons of Mary smile and are blessèd – they know the angels are on their side.
They know in them is the Grace confessèd, and for them are the Mercies multiplied.
They sit at the Feet – they hear the Word – they see how truly the Promise runs.
They have cast their burden upon the Lord, and – the Lord He lays it on Martha’s Sons !

Rudyard Kipling

That pretty much says it all, I think. But you should read the whole article.

 

About NEO
Lineman, Electrician, Industrial Control technician, Staking Engineer, Inspector, Quality Assurance Manager, Chief Operations Officer

7 Responses to Giants Were in the Earth

  1. the unit says:

    Interesting picture of how to raise a power pole. Kinda like the way I still get things done around my place. My back can whistleblow to that! 🙂
    https://fairmont.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/Utility-History-1902-2015.pdf

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Sunday Funnies, Calizuela | nebraskaenergyobserver

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