Chasing our Tails

Ecclesiastes 11:13-14

13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. 14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Back to work his week after a great vacation in New York City. Something occurred to me, and, being in a bit of a pessimistic mood this evening, I’m going to lay it out here.

I sell hydraulic hose components and assembly machines. Virtually everything in the world at least uses hydraulics in some measure, are completely hydraulic, or were built with heavy machinery that require hydraulics.  Most manufactured goods that I can think of are made in factories, using hydraulics in some fashion.

What’s interesting is how much oil plays in the whole equation. I mean domestic, drilled/fracked/pumped oil here in the states.  The last couple years saw the oil market bottom out.  Combine that with drought conditions in the Southwest – 10+ years in some regions – and the economy starts tanking.  Why?

Oil and crops are harvested using equipment that needs hydraulics. They need to be supported by semi trucks to carry them.  When trucks aren’t running, parts houses lose business, restaurants and hotels lose business (where are all of those people going to eat and sleep, not to mention salesmen like me?)

The ripple effect spreads far.

While I’ve been aware of this for a while, I recently had a different view come to mind. Businesses are by and large dependent on moving things.  Period.  Most business feed into the markets of trucks, drilling, farming, and construction of roads.  So why are we spending so much on trucks and roads?  To move stuff.  Why are moving stuff?  To produce more trucks and roads.

We’re chasing our tails.

Everybody who’s having fun nipping at their own rear ends, please raise your hands.


Yeah, me neither.

Why do we do it? Well, hell, that’s just the we’ve been doing it around here.

Then I remembered a speech I gave in college. It was something that would warm the heart of any good New World Order type.  Strictly as an exercise, I took the position that all technology should be abandoned.  Pollution, population growth, food production,…the list went on.  At some point we’ll likely outstrip our ability to sustain our modern world, and things would collapse.  There would be a massive worldwide die back as most of the population would simply die from violence, starvation, and/or disease.

Maybe it would be better to abandon all tech right now, I had argued, including medicine. I mean, how could you sustain it without transportation, electricity, etc.  There would be a die back, but not as bad as if we waited.

Like I said, this was just an exercise in persuasive speaking. It could never happen.  I don’t think it really should.  Now I sit here 37 years later, and I can’t help seeing how strange it all seems.  We chase a tail that can never be caught.  It’s a chase that arguably does as much or more harm than good.

When did you last sit and read your bible? When did you last spend time just sitting and talking to God?  When did you have a day off and really took it OFF?  No chores, nothing.  No lawn, no repairs, no errands.  Just…be.

But it’s a fool’s errand. How much harder to find, hunt, or grow our food?  How much younger would we die?  Would we be happier or longing for a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder and fries?

Yeah, Solomon had it figured. There’s nothing new under the sun.  There are always regrets and complaints.  Fool’s errands abound.  We ask what the point is, but Solomon has the answer:

Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.

Of course, if we had more time to read the Bible, we’d know that already, right? Oops! There I go again!

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