Campus sculpture meets Coca-Cola

Column

Recap: In last week’s interpretation of Krefe-Aekyad, I said that the sculpture’s rising staircase action represents civilization’s habit of rising and falling. Here’s the sculpture’s application to real life.

My first glimpse of the future was at the Matfield Green gas station 55 miles northeast of Wichita and 35 miles southwest of Emporia along I-35.

It was a Tuesday, and earlier that day, I had been fired from my job as a hotel cook for “failing to make the effort to meet the expectations of the company.”

Disgruntled, and feeling nostalgic, I drove home to Eastern Kansas.

Along the way, I stopped at a gas station to have a cheeseburger.

Inside was a brand new overstaffed Hardee’s. Around 15 Hardeesians mingled aimlessly behind the counter waiting for customers.

As I approached the counter to order, I noticed the pop machine.

The machine was a big red block with one white skunk stripe running along its side. It had a large touchscreen from which you could select almost any drink the Coca-Cola Company made in the past 100 years.

Five people were waiting in line. They watched a young girl peck at the screen. In the time that she got her cup filled with the “new” touch screen machine, all five of the people waiting in line could have had their drinks filled with a conventional pop machine.

Although the machine did look like something from a 1950’s domestic nuclear test site, it normally would not have evoked a reaction. But an epiphany happened there in the Heart of the Flint Hills, in the Heart of Kansas and in the Heart of America.

My generation’s faith is being built upon material things and the technology that speeds up our lives instead of slowing it down.

We are endless chasers of the future and past. We run to the horizon hoping to recapture the steps we lost chasing it. We climb higher and higher, believing that by increasing the complexity of things we can make our lives simpler.

Absurd.

Yes, nearly half of us have divorced parents. And many of us will probably make less money than our parents did.

And we can say that the foundations of society — family, the government, and the environment — have been rattled by the decisions of those who came before us.

But that’s old news. We are here now.

It’s in our hands. But we are putting our faith into material tools and centering our lives around things that have a shorter life span than we do.

Technology isn’t evil. It just distracts us from the things that are happening right in front of our faces.

With the Earth heating up, the global population booming, the debt of our nations rising and people getting cancer from the chemical food we eat and the radiation emitted from our cellphones, there may be one comfort left to us as we take one more step toward the edge: At least Coke will taste the same.