When I was graduating grade school we were given our memory journals for everyone to write witty things to remember them by. We were also asked to pick a quote we decided would suit us for our vision of our future.
I had chosen “Hook your wagon to a star” by Ralph Waldo Emerson. It was my thought to “Aim high!” as the mission of my life. That was in 1965.
Indeed I have always “aimed high” - sometimes with success, sometimes not - but it has suited me in my life’s mission all these days as I approach my 62nd birthday.
With the limitless information available on the internet I recently had pause to look up my old quote and try to find the context in which it was given - and was struck with the even deeper meaning of that statement - and even more so, in its relevance in today’s world.
Here is the full version of Emerson’s thought:
"I admire still more than the saw-mill the skill which, on the sea-shore, makes the tides drive the wheels and grind corn, and which thus embraces the assistance of the moon, like a hired band, to grind, and wind, and pump, and saw, and split stone, and roll iron.
Now that is the wisdom of a man, in every instance of his labor, to hitch his wagon to a star, and see his chore done by the gods themselves. That is the way we are strong, by borrowing the might of the elements. The forces of steam, gravity, galvanism, light, magnets, wind, fire, serve us day by day, and cost us nothing.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson from American Civilization (1862)
The world of today has become far more complex than in Emerson’s day - and some of those sources of power Emerson mentions, do indeed, have great costs - and some do not.
Knowing what real and honest science knows today about the environmental and health costs of an economy driven by coal and oil exploitation - if the far-ranging, free-thinking, intellectual Emerson were alive today that statement would be condensed to expanding the development of the environmentally-safe technologies of the sun, the wind the tides and gravity.
The great costs of coal, oil and gas industries to our economy and to our environment should only highlight the greater needs for the development of those smarter, environmentally-safe technologies.
The polluting industries have pockets filled with money for dealing with politicians - either buying them if they play ball - or destroying them if they don’t. We are left with an uphill fight!
And so, I “hitch my wagon to a Star” in the thought of still “aiming high” - only this time in fighting for a more environmentally world. Unlike Don Quixote fighting windmills - I’ll be fighting for them.