The Cost of Progress

From Margaret Murie’s book (1929): “. . . the Koyukuk country (Alaska) is still the same as in (18)’99.  Civilization will not get to it too much for quite a while yet. . . civilization, meaning many comforts, many people, speed, efficiency, thought of as an enemy. . . we would stand and cheer so long as our spot of wilderness could repel the invasion.  Why shouldn’t one corner of the earth remain “unconquested”?” The need to conquer both the unspoiled earth and the simple, basic necessities of life, in other words, progress, has been going on for thousands of years.  A never ending war, slowly taking over the wild places, devouring natural resources, causing the downfall of simple inexpensive experiences, and beating back free thinking and individualism.  Like all wars, there are casualties – our children and free time.  What time is left after two people work longer hours only to counteract time-saving costly conveniences; relaxing in front of the TV; keeping up with social media, meals and laundry; and cleaning a home large enough to cancel out time-saving cleaning devices?  A story before bed and Sunday afternoons?  I see no gain at all, only a great cost.

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