04 June 2007

Perpetual Motion

For hundreds of years, attempts have been made to create perpetual motion machines – a machine which once started runs forever without additional energy being applied to it. There still isn’t one which works and there probably never will be. Energy must always be added to overcome friction and other energy drainers.

This is not only the case with machines. It is true with regard to any human endeavor.

Just because a thing, as far as one can remember, has always been does not mean that that things will always be that way. There is always a chance that change will occur, and given enough time, change is a virtual certainty. Circumstances change, perceptions change, knowledge changes. Attention must be paid and energy must be added positively and creatively for change to be constructive. No human enterprise advances of its own, not even things that we may consider to be endlessly so, like the advance of technology.

But that can be easy to forget in day-to-day life. It can be all to easy to rely on things – on structures, institutions and relationships – without paying attention to the energy which must be added to keep them moving positively, to keep regenerating them.

So as I think about this, I consider all of the things that I hope to see sustained for a long time, throughout my lifetime and indeed perpetually. The cost to me as an individual, I believe, is fairly small. But the attention, the regularity with which I must apply energy is very important. Neglected over a course of time, anything will run out of energy and deteriorate.

Perhaps there is nothing (outside of the divine) that is perpetual. But all things human can be made lasting if they are cared for, fed, in a sense. If we as individuals do not choose to care for the things in our lives and our societies which we wish to see endure we can be assured that others will feed their own desires, and those structures, institutions and relationships may very well not bring us peace and comfort.

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