A glass of perspective

During my undergrad days at RPI, I took a history class called “The Cultural History of Water in the United States.” Most people, when I mention the course, look at me strangely, as if they are expecting the punchline of a joke to follow.

But it was a serious course and fascinating, too. I often find myself fondly looking back upon it. Can’t say that the same is true for many of my undergrad courses. Thoughts of linear algebra, advanced calculus, mechanics, electronic materials and thermodynamics don’t usually result in a warm smile, more likely a cold shiver. On the other hand, “Chemistry of Materials” was excellent. But, I digress.

My history course on water invigorated my thirst for knowledge. (Sorry, can’t resist puns.) In that class we studied the creation of the Erie Canal, the Army Corps of Engineers’ battle to prevent the flooding of New Orleans — a battle later lost during Hurricane Katrina, and the use of water in fighting forest fires.

The best way to describe the theme of the course was a study of humanity vs. nature. So often in the history of our world, we think that we can tame God’s creation. We become too enamored with our marvels of engineering. Don’t get me wrong, I love seeing the creative products produced by engineers, architects, and construction workers.

But the history of water struck a chord with me. It is amazing and humbling to see how a simple molecule, two parts hydrogen-one part oxygen, can be so important and so powerful. Water’s power is devastating. Ice splits rocks. The weight of snow can crush a roof. And tsunami waves, as we’ve seen in Japan most recently, are truly terrifying. It is simply out of our control.

Yet, water sustains our life. It makes our planet unique. On a hot day, A cold drink of water, with ice cubes clinking in a glass, is the definition of refreshment.

I pray for those suffering through the aftermath of earthquakes and tsunamis in Japan. I know that many have experienced the power of water first hand. I hope that they will receive the life-sustaining refreshment of water during this crisis.

H2O: it puts things into perspective.

Leave a comment


  1. Can’t live without it.

  2. springtimesoul

     /  March 13, 2011

    And it’s the ultimate renewable resource.


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