A pendulum can suggest different things. In Edgar Allen Poe’s grisly tale The Pit And The Pendulum, it’s the horror from the next sweep across your imprisoned body. In Hallmark’s birthday cards, it’s more the pleasant tick of another year. Either way, by its very nature pendulums involve two very extreme points along which it swings from one to the other.
Which describes much of life. You and I lurching from one extreme to another. Everyone preaches moderation; everyone practices extremes. Passionate love followed by terrible hatred…cheers that sour into jeers….putting heroes on pedestals only to quickly knock them off…belief in this and then quite suddenly in that. We are not by nature a very moderate species.
At one time the Medieval Church chained Bibles to the cathedral walls so believers could not take them home. It was best to have the trained clergy teacher the un-trained masses. With the Protestant Reformation and the printing press in the 16th C, all that began to change. The pendulum of events now swung to an entirely opposite extreme. Now everyone could own a Bible, and as Luther preached everyone-was-his-own-priest.
By our century the pendulum of events has swung ever more sharply. Behold today’s remarkable Wikiepedia…! It proudly calls itself the “free encyclopedia.” I worked for the old Encyclopedia Britannica. Here was the approved fountainhead of all information penned by the finest experts in every field. Here was the fixed focus of all knowledge. Here was something every family hoped to own.
No longer. Today we have Wikipedia — an on-line source which is so free and open that it invites anyone with anything useful to say about a subject to say it. Right then. Right there. A lot less staid and stodgy then those old once-for-a-lifetime Britannica sets. At the same, a lot less firm and fixed, for the information can literally change as you study it. Whatta world…!
Once again, from one extreme to the other. Will the pendulum of life ever cease? Not likely. Is it always a good thing? Who knows anymore what’s “good?” Look it up. If you want, add your own definition.
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