Good morning on this the twenty third day of November, in the year of our Lord 2016.
The second set of replacement fluorescent bulbs has arrived, so I’ll be able to replace those in the upstairs light fixture which is above the stairs. It will be nice to have lights which turn on when the switch is thrown. Which of course brings up the issue of how much we can take modern technology for granted. Thousands of people’s work goes into light bulbs producing light on demand with a switch, some of them probably long dead. The house was built in 1953, so if the electrician who ran the wires was 16 then, he’d be 79 now. He might possibly still be alive, but it’s not likely. (Our hypothetical electrician would have been born in 1937 and spent his early years living through the rationing of World War II.) The copper in the wires would have been turned into wire some time before that, and the copper ore smelted into copper before then, and the copper ore dug up prior to that, and the copper mine discovered still earlier. Then there are the people who operate the power plant which supplies us with electricity, and the people who built the plant before them, and so on.
We live in a very complex world, in the west, and are far more interdependent than we like to think. But this also means that we also benefit each other more than we tend to think about; rich and poor, there are tends of thousands of people who do things which our lives are better for, and on the eve of Thanksgiving (here in America) it’s a good time to think about them.
It’s also a good time to contemplate the reality of complex entities. So many people are reductionists, thinking that the composite things we see in this world are mere illusions and their composite parts are the only reality. Our bodies are just cells and our cells are just sub-atomic particles, etc. They’re never consistent with this, of course, since to be consistent with it would be to be completely inhuman, but I think it’s good to consider the reality of composition since in our contingent world, all things are contingent and thus have another reality behind them. Or in other words, nothing in this world is God. If you make God the minimum qualification for reality, nothing in our world is real. There is, then, a subsidiary reality which is real, since there is clearly something besides God.