HANK WIESNER: You’ll be seeing some of these students again

Some thoughts on the students being recognized at the various honor banquets being held at area schools as the academic year winds down… And forgive my using that worn-out phrase, “These are some of the most interesting times to be alive.” They are, of course, but I wonder if anyone ever considered themselves to be living in dull times. All times are challenging. Only the challenges change. Inventing a cure for the common cold is a challenge. Once, so was killing a mastodon. In many areas – computers, space exploration, medicine, to name a few — mankind is headed into black sky. That’s sky at the edge of space — uncharted territory marking the edge of whole new universes. The universe is five billion or so years old. The best guess is that man has trod Earth for only a few million years of that. In other words, if all known time is an hour, man has been around only a fraction of its most recent second. Perhaps the first part of man’s journey toward blackness began from the depths of a dirt-floor think tank which we’d now call a cave. One man or woman – for the first time in history – lifted their hands off the dirt and slowly, carefully, wondrously, stood swayingly erect. And was hence a few feet closer to the sky. History is relative. Today’s headlines are tomorrow’s old news. The pop saying, “That’s so five minutes ago,” is true. For example, when’s the last time you worried seriously about your children contracting polio or smallpox? Today’s incredible journey is tomorrow’s trip to the corner quick-stop. We routinely go to Tupelo for dinner, and we’re back in time to catch the late news on TV. In the late 1800s, it likely took two days in a wagon to reach Tupelo. And that’s if the rains hadn’t washed out the pigpaths. Today, we talk about putting a man on Mars. Five hundred years from now, people will likely leave from the Johnson-McGill spaceport in Ripley to go to the Moon for dinner, and maybe watch the Earthrise. And still get back in time to catch the late news. In a lot of ways, we’re where the Model T automobile once was, or where Columbus was when he set sail. In other words, you ain’t seen nuthin’ yet. The young people recognized at these honors banquets are some of our best and brightest, right out of the box. Remember their faces. Someday in the not-too-distant future, when history rolls the credits for some particularly wondrous deed – getting a man to Mars and back, inventing a diet drug that truly works, or dragging a wounded comrade to safety under intense enemy fire – you may well see some of those faces again.

Southern Sentinel