Today I have an open letter to transportation in all its forms. For drawing people and ideas so much closer together. So without any further ado:
Thank you for existing and for constantly evolving. The earth, for all of its depth and grandeur, is constantly shrinking, and has been for the past two centuries or so. For example, your development of the steam locomotive in the early 19th century drew people so much closer – insofar as that distance suddenly became much less of a limiting factor when considering travel. Traveling hundreds of miles across a country may still have been a costly affair, but the railroad made it so much easier. To put it simply, the sphere of societies with which an individual could reasonably expect to interact with was widened. Accurate clocks and timezones were suddenly needed to coordinate the movements of trains. The railroad was a huge deal; good job on that one.
For my other readers, it can sometimes be difficult to contextualize the impact that historical inventions had; I suppose the closest parallel today to rail would be teleportation. With it, plane flights and expenses are no longer an issue when traveling. Charity and relief missions are made easier. Foreign aid is revolutionized by the instant apparition of goods and resources. Visiting someone in Japan or India or Mexico is now only a five-minute affair, instead of one lasting several hours.
Since the railroad, there have been other inventions to “shrink” the world. Flight shortened the delivery of post to a matter of days – as opposed to weeks – and the internet (the transportation of messages) has made global communication all but instant. With these innovations, middle-and-higher-class members of the world’s developed communities have access to a historically record-breaking variety of goods, services, and people. How else could I apply to a college 5,000 miles away? Or hear about the Brexit results at the same time as (or earlier than) someone from London might? Or befriend my future classmates from all across the globe?
I couldn’t imagine being limited to my immediate surroundings for socialization and intellectual pursuit. Hawaii is an amazing place, but from a statistical point of view, being able to meet more people only increases the chance that I’ll meet the people out there that I’d get along the best with. Were I to attend Tufts a hundred or more years ago, it’d be a week-long (month-long, if my theoretical trip happens before the Panama Canal is built) and probably one-way voyage to Massachusetts in the pursuit of higher education. What a cost! Having to say goodbye to everyone I know here for an indefinite amount of time would be a dreadful affair. With the efficacy of today’s inventions, however, I don’t have to, and I can still attend an awesome university and meet a lot of people traveling to the same place for the same goal.
So thanks again, transportation, for making my collegiate venture so practical. Not only am I avoiding catching a horrible maritime disease on a (possibly several) week-long voyage, but so are all of my classmates – people who I probably would never have met were it not as easy as it is today to travel across the world. I’d hate to miss out on this college, or these people. This concludes my open letter.
A hundred million thanks,
P.S. Let’s get working on that teleportation thing. Shipping costs to Hawaii are insane nowadays.”