Someone once said that civilization is indoor plumbing. It’s a reasonable sentiment. There’s a great deal to modern society of course, and it’s all very complicated. But things like plumbing and plowing are the fundamental blocks that, removed, bring the whole house down in a hurry. If it’s precarious, it has also been the way of things for a very long time. The idea is that, as we advance, we put first things first. And when we succeed in improving our lot, then quickly take for granted what we’ve achieved. That’s for the best really; we wouldn’t get very far if we stood around slack-jawed at the work of our predecessors, however genuinely impressive those works might be.
No, we are supposed to build on the bedrock mined by our elders, as they did in the achievements of theirs. We are always the youngest in a long line of very smart creatures, you see.
So, if it seems a little smug to note the flaws in a previous generation’s works, that’s only natural. I concede that right up front. The first man to realize the sun was at the center of what we now call our solar system must have felt that way. We sympathize and even identify with his bravery—we stand with Galileo as the Inquisition places him on trial. We stand for truth, after all, whatever the cost.
And yet. I wonder if we don’t often have more in common with the Inquisitors. The old ways have become old for a reason; they work, or did, for a comparatively long time. The sun revolved around the Earth for how long? And somehow we managed. It’s only been the other way round for oh, 500 years? A drop in the bucket. If you see in yourself, as I sometimes do, a certain resistance to change, take heart. That, too, is very natural, and, if we are to avoid any number of crackpot delusions, every bit as necessary.
So what’s the trick? When do we go boldly and when do we hold the line? Well, the market has always been the best judge. It can move slowly or with breakneck speed, but it always moves surely.
Of course regulation has a part to play too, to keep playing fields level and even to encourage new players. But Paper Water Bottle believes that the market solves civilizations dilemmas more efficiently than any other mechanism. It encourages the creation of new solutions with a regularity that would be more astonishing than any scientific breakthrough, were it not so universally experienced and accepted.
So, it is easy and certainly reasonable to cite our society’s errors, to bemoan our dependence on petroleum, our failure to recycle—but only if we do more, only if we offer our own solution—built on the work of many who came before, but with our own fresh understanding an expertise—submitted, respectfully, as A Refreshing Alternative.