I think we are hard-wired from earliest years to play with Tinkertoys and Lincoln Logs and Legos and plain old wonderful wooden blocks. We just love to build up and later knock down, only to build up again.
We do this as preschoolers and we do this as adults. As adults we like to tear down what we consider no longer attractive, no longer effective, and no longer fitting with our values.
Right now where I live there are five construction sites within two blocks. Buildings existed for years at these sites but now it was decided that they were not good enough. Where I work, a new subway stop recently opened, so all the buildings are being torn down so that better, taller buildings can be built. I now work in the last building standing. It is, to tell the truth, somewhat disconcerting. Tinkertoys being knocked down all around me.
All around me better buildings are being built, buildings that are more architecturally pleasing, buildings that are more energy efficient, buildings that fit better with the values of the community. This is all good stuff.
But thank goodness for the stodgy old folks at The Society for Historic Preservation. These good people remind us that there is value, historical value and cultural value, in preserving the good of the past.
Getting rid of what no longer works is good. Replacing it with something better is good. Moving forward is good. But keeping in mind that we must preserve – either in reality or in memory - the best of the past, is also immensely important.
I wonder. Did I just write an allegory on how to lead our lives?
©2015 Margery Leveen Sher
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