Monday, August 07, 2006

England swings like a pendulum do...

England swings like a pendulum do,
Bobbies on bicycles, two by two,
Westminster Abbey the tower of Big Ben,
The rosy red cheeks of the little children.
-- From "England Swings" by Roger Miller.
I fondly remember my "Physics of Music and Sound" class one day when the professor was telling about an experiment that someone he knew had done with a pendulum. As he told the story, the colleague had hung a weight on a string half way across the room and would routinely demonstrate the fact that if dropped, a pendulum would not return as far as it had been dropped from. In order to demonstrate this, he would put his head and back to the wall, hold the weight to his nose and drop the weight. This had worked time and time again, class after class except one day.... The teacher got a little excited and, instead of dropping the weight, he gave the weight a slight push..... (That is where the story ended.... If you haven't figured it out, he ended up with at least a bruised nose and ego...).

One of the things that this story illustrates is, not only the physical object, the pendulum, but the way of the world. In thinking back over my lifetime, I witnessed (through the filter of the television) protests associated with Viet-Nam and now Iraq. The wars in both Viet-Nam and Iraq. The culture around me becoming more liberal (although the liberals may argue this) and now, more conservative (the conservatives in turn would argue this). The pendulum of ideals and culture swings regularly.

The centering of the pendulum is, of course, a natural (and, I believe usually desirable) event unless energy is added. This energy comes in many forms. One of the largest in the political spectrum lately (in the last 6 years) has been the senseless terrorist attacks on western nations by people proclaiming an Islamic Jihad.

I see this same sort of pendulum associated with the politics of my job. I see that same pendulum motion as I see those I am involved with (friends, family, etc.) and how they deal with change around them.

As a result of these swings of the pendulum, I am constantly putting myself in check, examining my motives and deciding whether it is desirable and honorable to add energy to that pendulum.

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