Silly Ideas

Many people actively work in the world of “things”. Car mechanics, aircraft designers, electricians, farmers, bridge designers, bridge builders, and bridge painters are some of these people. Plumbers, carpenters, crane operators, machinists, gardeners, concrete masons, and shoemakers are a few more. Nature’s laws of physics, chemistry, and biology keep these people in check. As you might often hear me say, “They all know how the world REALLY works!”

A child playing with a set of wooden building blocks rather than being placed before an iPad screen will soon absorb intuitively that smaller blocks rest more securely upon larger blocks than the reverse.

A bridge designer might well imagine a wild and way-out design, a bridge that looks nothing like any bridge ever built before. But unless he carefully calculates the stresses caused by the weight of the bridge and its load, and unless he factors in things like gravity, wind forces, and the strength of the material he hopes to use, the bridge he imagines can never be built. Those calculations will reveal to him that his bridge only exists in a dream. It can never be built because it defies nature. Nature’s laws keep him in check.

The farmer might wish to plant a specific crop that would bring him good profits. However, unless he plants a crop appropriate to the climate of his location and to the available water, the seeds will die and he will harvest nothing. Nature’s laws keep him in check.

The business professional may decide he wishes to sell only products that he himself would use, but the economic rules of nature will soon correct him. Lacking the coercive power of government, and thus being unable to force people to purchase his products, he will discover that the very necessity of profit compels him to please his customers rather than himself. Nature’s laws keep him in check.

The electrician might wish to supply the energy needs of his customer by running low cost thin cable, thereby maximizing his profit. But the cross sectional area of an electrical wire has to be proportional to the current it is intended to carry. If he runs too fragile a wire, it will melt and possibly start a fire. Nature’s laws keep him in check.

All these people know exactly how the world REALLY works. They know that there are rules to which they must adhere today in order to have the desired outcome tomorrow, a successfully standing bridge, a good harvest or a building adequately supplied with electrical energy.

When two armies of men fling themselves at one another in mortal combat, the soldier also learns how the world REALLY works. Advantages of terrain, numbers, ordnance, morale, and strategy really matter. One way in which the world of war REALLY works is that war only ends when one side unconditionally surrenders. The last war that America actually won was World War 2. When a war skids into “nation building” before anyone surrenders, the entire cost in blood and treasure was wasted.

This is why war used to end with the losing side being conquered and often enslaved. While not conforming to Judeo-Christian ethics, we can understand that Moslem conquerors often castrated their male slaves in order to avoid any possibility of a future diaspora of their defeated enemies.

Another way in which the world of war really works is that all attempts at ‘civilizing’ war, and subjecting it to schoolboy rules dreamed up by desk-bound bureaucrats, inevitably fail on the battlefield. The most recent dreamed-up notion is that civilians are somehow exempt from suffering and death in war. Not only are the people building the bullets and guns in the factories playing a role in the war along with those firing on the battlefield, but it is impossible to win by aiming weaponry only at clearly marked and obvious targets. While there is a moral call not to torture civilians or aim rockets at kindergartens (that are not being used as weapon storage sites to deliberately invite casualties or shield the enemy), winning a war often involves attacking behind the front lines. The incinerated civilians in Tokyo and Dresden, which were firebombed in 1945, were casualties of how the world REALLY works.

Those who insist upon civilians suffering no death or tragedy in war will inevitably lose their wars to those with a better understanding of how the world REALLY works.

In the United States, politicians and even presidents from George Washington to Ronald Reagan were mostly people who had worked with things, not only ideas. Some were soldiers, some were farmers or ranchers, and some were business professionals. In more recent times, too many politicians have never worked with things at any point in their lives and are thus constrained by nothing.

They are free to propose silly ideas to the populace and they possess the power to impose those ideas as law.

As nature’s laws keep the world of things in check, is there anything to keep the world of ideas in check? The answer is yes: there is the Bible. Perhaps its main function is to provide barriers to bad ideas. “Thou shall not murder…” is an important good idea. It announces that all human life is valuable and that individuals cannot place themselves above others. .“Thou shall not steal” is another important good idea. It forces a respect for the property of all people, contradicting the idea that certain people or groups are entitled to the results of other people’s labor.

Scripture is filled with countless examples of how the world REALLY works in all areas of human interaction; warfare, economic and business affairs, male-female relationships, and even dying. Historically, those nations of the world that have allowed their ideas to be influenced and constrained by the Bible have tended to flourish. Those nations either ignorant of Scripture or defiant, have tended to fail, usually sunk by the weight of silly ideas.

This Thought Tool is dedicated in memory of Chana Kritzman, age 88. After hiding in their safe room for over a day, Chana and her husband were both shot by Hamas terrorists as they were being evacuated from their home. After two weeks, Chana succumbed to her wounds.

Born in Warsaw, Poland in 1935, Chana’s parents recognized the Nazi evil on the horizon and moved to Israel when she was a baby. She and her husband were among the founders of Kibbutz Be’eri and she is survived by her husband, their four children, 12 grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.

And with continuing prayers for the safe release of the hostages and, among them, Ariel Bibas, age 4. Ariel was taken hostage along with his mother, father, and baby brother. At this point, he has spent most of this toddler year in captivity.

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