I have the good fortune every few weeks to take part in an enlightened conversation with friends over breakfast at Bob Evans. The number of people present at those morning gatherings can vary, but normally there are at least a half dozen of us enjoying coffee and exchanging stories. Nothing earth shattering, just good communication among friends.
The last time we got together, we shared experiences from our past-you know the kind of stories where something goes bump in the night. Stories often told by camp fires along Fishing Creek as we waited for a bite on our fishing poles. Tales of mysterious lights and strange sounds in the night we exchanged. We each listen at the tall tales and then told our own haunting experience. Our waitress appeared with fresh coffee, we wondered if she overheard our stories as we moved on to the next topic of conversation. After all, we would not want the young lady to think we were believers in stories of mountain monster.
As in any gathering of men, sports is often part of the conversation. That morning stories were told of golf. Not so much about playing the game, but things that happen to people while playing. One member of the group told of a time when he sliced a ball off the fairway on a mountain course. The ball landed in the ruff just near the wood line in some tall weeds. When he went to retrieve the ball, the unmistakable sound of a rattle came from somewhere in the grass. He quickly realized his ball was best left for the snake to play.
We asked one member of the group about his new job. He wears a black robe and hands down justice. Talking of the job gave a couple of us the opportunity to recall experiences before a judge to explain why we did not see the stop sign or explain about our faulty speed odometer. We laughed at those humorous moments in the justice system, that years ago may not have been so amusing at the time. Good friends and good conversation.
One of the last subjects was a brief discussion of the downfall of civilization as we all know it. It's a big topic to discuss over eggs, bacon, and black coffee. A couple of us gave quick opinions before leaving the question unresolved as we finished our coffee and the gathering came to an end. As I left the company of the wise men, I began thinking about what was said about civilization. I realized that the time I had spent talking with those learned men may be the solution to the very question of the loss of civilization. I decided it would make a good story trying to discover why we are losing civilization as I knew it growing up in New Martinsville.
I picked up a newspaper and looked at the day's headlines. There I found my first possible suspect in the demise of our civilization. The story told of angry environmentalists at some court ruling they did not agree with. People who want to save the planet that they believe is lost to the whims of mankind. Not a bad idea, but it seems that those who end up in the news have their important message lost in angry words of protest. Their message and causes may mean well, but not likely to affect the future of civilization.
Another headline explains why we should let Industrialists cut down, drill, and build whatever they want in the name of progress and profits. After all, they only have the best interest of the country in mind. Of course the best interest is the boards of management and stockholders profits. Progress is good, but progress without considering the interest of people is hard to understand at times. But with all the goods and bads of the industrialists, I do not believe they are the answer to our changing of civilization.
I wonder if perhaps politicians may be the answer to my question. After all, they are our representatives and make only decisions that benefit each of us. It sometimes seems their truth gets confused somewhere between governing for the people and getting reelected. Their intention may be good, but the answers sometimes get lost in the noise of politicians. With that said, I don't believe they are the reason for the downfall of civilization.
How about lawyers? People seem to enjoy blaming them for civilization's short comings. The litigators can find blame for many problems and sue for damages. If they are successful in finding answers, then politicians can change the laws so others can sue someone else and make money to change another law. Well, by now my head is beginning to hurt trying to solve this complex question of civilization, but I don't believe the layers are to blame either.
There is one more group that may be the cause of civilization's demise-weather announcers. Here is the most deceptive group of people in the whole world, when you think about it. First, they stand in front of a green screen with nothing on it. We view this false image through our TVs and see what they predicate we will see. Each day they may predicate it will snow, rain, or have a drought, maybe. Tomorrow they will fool us once again as they tell us they were told wrong the day before. But, even with their slight of hand and green screen, they are not the reason civilizations seems to be failing. With no answers to my question of civilization I was about to give up, when it finally came to me. It is the success of air condition in our society that has caused the beginning of the end. Before air-conditioning people sat on the front porch and talked with their neighbor in the cool evening air. Under chestnut trees, family reunions were common in Bruce Park. People gathered together in hopes of cool air and good conversation with friends. The simple act of communication with each other may be the simple answer to the survival of civilization.
With this new found optimism for civilization, I look forward to the next gathering of my friends to deliberate our experiences and thoughts. Those are important things we share and, who knows, we may find the answer to one of life's many mysteries. Will our wives find out we ordered sausage links with our eggs? It may not be a lot, but it is a beginning. Just think, if those we have elected to manage this country sat down with my friends for a cup of coffee and put differences aside, maybe, just maybe our country and civilization would benefit as we listen Through the Lens.