New technology and change always come as a double-edged sword offering both displacements of the normal and the possibility of the tomorrow. But in a historical perspective – in our history books, in our museums, in the way we make history into a linear string of progress – we rarely see both sides.

For example: Thinking back on the development of the tractor, I see a story of progress and better living conditions.

But John Steinbeck saw the other side of the coin. In his diary, he wrote:

“Today’s work is the overtone of the tractors, the men who run them, the men they displace, the sound of them, the smell of them. I’ve got to get this over. Got to because this one’s tone is very important— this is the eviction sound and the tonal reason for movement. Must do it well.”

Steinbeck, Diary Entry

And this is how he lyrically described it in the Grapes of Wrath:

“The tractors came over the roads and into the fields, great crawlers moving like insects, having the incredible strength of insects. They crawled over the ground, laying the track and rolling on it and picking it up. Diesel tractors, puttering while they stood idle; they thundered when they moved, and then settled down to a droning roar. Snub-nosed monsters, raising the dust and sticking their snouts into it, straight down the country, across the country, through fences, through dooryards, in and out of gullies in straight lines. They did not run on the ground, but on their own roadbeds. They ignored hills and gulches, water courses, fences, houses.”

Steinbeck: The Grapes of Wrath

The new as monsters.

These days, we are at a new paradigm-shift and the future holds grave dangers and great possibilities. Let us work together to manifest those possibilities as best as possible.