LC Van Savage
We Are So Smart!!
I am always so impressed with how smart we are as a species. Everyone knows that we Homo Sapiens can reason and communicate. We can dance and tie knots, bend our tongues sideways, walk a tightrope, play the violin and do impossible tricks with yo yos. We can do any number of things your basic lower life forms can only dream of. That is, if they even dream. We as a species are just simply amazing. Fabulous.
For example, ever read license plates? Arenít we brilliant the way we convey any number of messages to the people driving behind us, usually in only seven or eight letters? Iím not particularly clever as my fellow drivers are; all I could come up with on my license plate was "I AM LC," but I think it conveys a certain pride of self, donít you agree?
I drive to and from my radio show every Wednesday morning, and read plates as I go, and am astonished at the ingenuity of the combination of letters that can tell about the carsí drivers. For a long time I kept a record of the names by reading them into a tape recorder in order to put them in a column, but then began to worry if I did, Iíd get sued, since suing has become a national pastime more revered than baseball. Further, I could get someone into real trouble if I said I saw his/her license on I95 going south when he/she was supposed to be going north on Maine St. to h/h office on that same day. So I donít think I ought to mention any of those remarkably clever plates on I95 going south on Wednesday mornings. (You can thank me later; you know who you are.)
And thereís one other thing that just knocks my socks off when it comes to human cleverness, and in a way, itís kind of related to license plates. But first, I really have to ask you to not think I am praising these people. Well, actually I am, but not in the normal way of praising.
I think the people who manage to escape from jails are often extremely brilliant. Obviously they have a lot of time to plan, but honestly, when I read how they design and execute their escapes, it just boggles me. Remember the one at Alcatraz where the escapees made dummies of themselves, putting real hair on the heads taken from the floor of the prison barbershop? And what about those brave souls who fly a helicopter straight into the middle of a jailís exercise yard, scoop up their loved ones and fly off to freedom? (Usually short-lived.) Or the ones who find freedom inside a sack of garbage being hauled out in a truck, or sail off on an inflated raincoat. And how about those guys who dig tunnels miles long with a couple of spoons from the cafeteria, hauling the dirt back out in the cuffs of their pants and managing to get showered and lined up for roll call the next morning. Thatís impressive. Freedom I guess is high on the list of priorities when one doesnít have any. Itís a major pity those dudes couldnít put all that inventive energy to work for good instead. I wonder if thereís a book out there just describing prison escapes in the last 100 years.
We all know it would be impossible for me to list all the astute creativity and brilliant logic of the human mind; the invention of the wheel, the safety pin, the can opener, the rubber spatula. And we even seem to be able to build buildings on a small square of land that go miles into the sky and never topple over.
I find it curious that with the greatly developed brains we have been given, so many of us choose to use them to create evil and pain in this world, to plot out wars, to build bombs, to crush people, when it seems just as easy to use those brains to create good. And I guess most of us do that, often successfully. What is worrisome is that the brilliance with which weíve been endowed frequently becomes a tool with which we hurt people. How come? Why does one brain search for a cure for cancer while another plots the destruction of the world? Sure, I know it has to do with a lot of other variables and circumstances, and not all of us are pure of heart. Or brain. But imagine! Just imagine!
Shakespeare wrote in Hamlet,
"What a piece of work is a man!
How noble in reason!
how infinite in faculty!
in form, in moving, how express and admirable!
in action how like an angel!
In apprehension how like a god."
He is right, you know. Oh, what a piece of work we are! Sorry if my goody-two shoes are showing, but hey, letís at least take a shot at keeping our brains working toward genius and good, OK? Letís not blow it.
LCís book of poetry, "LCís Take Ė Poetry I" is at local bookstores.
Hear her on WMPG Ė FM, 90.1 or 104.1 or on www.wmpg.org, Weds. 11-11:30 AM.
Email her at email@example.com.