I realized a day or so ago that our society uses the word “logging” to refer to at least two distinct activities.
Our forest industry cuts down trees, chain saws them into flatbed lengths for extraction from the forest floor, and then transports them to lumber mills and pulp and paper plants. This can be done in a way that keeps the forest alive as a living entity, which will continue to draw from the earth and water sheds, inhale sunlight and carbon dioxide, exhale oxygen, and nurture living creatures under the canopy of its branches.
On sheets of paper provided by this forest, human beings create books for children, like “Good Night, Moon” and for adults, to inspire their lonely, self-doubting minds.
As the saying has it: ‘time is money’; although this phrase is often used to ‘justify’ the bartering of flowing life for dead-end annulments of freedom and beauty. And so we end up with the ‘clear-cutting’ of entire forests–convenient and economical in the way that removing entire mountain tops provides easy access to coal and mineral deposits beneath. After these amputations, rain no longer feeds the living land. Instead–no longer bound within an organic ecosphere—the soil washes away, along with any seedlings hoping to restart their community; river systems strangle; and the land downstream becomes barren.
Another use of the word “logging”, which seems quite distinct, is to ‘log’ the results of activities and intentions. For instance, these days, in addition to my long-standing to-do lists, I ‘log’ my daily blood pressure meds and readings. I also treat my daily journal entries as a way to ‘log’ plans for the day and to record how I am presently feeling about life, death, and points in between.
This logging of results seems important. At least I have made it personally so. It allows me to look back at what happened when I see that I have contributed to another’s pain.
Our entire society relies on the accuracy and integrity of election results and of the historical record, which George Santayana reminds us we will repeat if we don’t remember what happened before. It is hard to imagine how our modern world could function without records of past intentions, in the light of which we evaluate the arising future.
But what happens when we capture all of the information that our recording devices can process? What happens when instead of taking just the information for which we can currently see a use, we defer until some later time the recognition of what is significant and what is not? It isn’t just privacy that is invaded when phone calls are indiscriminately tapped–just in case some caller is later suspected to have been up to no good. Lightening processing speeds and massive storage data banks don’t mean that their indiscriminate use is free of consequences. When ‘knowledge’ is cut off from intention, and from human involvement, interest and accountability, it clogs the streams of understanding and chokes off awareness of personal responsibility for our world.
When ‘logging’ information becomes divorced from an understanding that what we know is who we are, then a life-denying momentum is set loose upon our world. Instead of ‘all the news that’s fit to print’, we end up reading, in line at the grocery checkout, how everyone is corrupt, dying, or glamorous (in ways we can only connect with like pilot fish feeding off the flanks of whales).
Bullet points that are designed to manipulate, not to provoke thought and inquiry into the important, complex issues that face our world, are like tree stumps left on a clear-cut hillside; they are not a living forest that nurtures wisdom and provides a home for creatures with whom we share our world; they provide no ‘food for thought’ nor any meeting ground for minds that span perspectives and interests as varied as the colors of a rainbow.
To understand and feel for the circumstances in which another lives has always been a rare and wonderful gift: a gift that so easily slips from this world, as it does from the lives of those who live in grief for a loved one they tried so hard to understand.