In fact, absurdity or irony must surely strike us as a distinctly misplaced and immature response. Why be absurd or ironic in any kind of unnaturally determined and sustained way about something that is precious and fragile and, above all, based on our best approximation of a central truth about our lives? A sense of vigilant gratitude would seem a more apt response, rooted in an honest and undeluded appreciation of the incorrigibly imperfect, frequently cruel, often wilfully destructive, yet infinitely unpredictable, occasionally exquisite and not entirely unhopeful world many of us still find ourselves occupying.
— Johnny Lyons, The Philosophy of Isaiah Berlin
Today, I received a book which I ordered one week ago, on the 24th. I noticed when I checked the tracking information that it was being shipped from Johannesburg, South Africa. A couple of days after that, it passed through France, then England, before arriving stateside in Indianapolis. By Saturday, it was slightly north of here. Had it not been for the holiday, I might have even gotten it then, or on Monday.
Obviously, this was a routine transaction, one that we do all the time without thinking about it. Still, I think it’s worthwhile to reflect on just how great it is that we live in a world where it is both fast and affordable to discover the existence of a book, order a copy, and have it delivered to your door from halfway around the world. What would our great-grandparents have made of this?