“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” – John 1:5
On the precipice of New Years Day, in the first hours of the year of our Lord, 2014 as fireworks lit up the sky and neon lit up the streets, one last assembly line inside one last factory stopped. It was a 19th century innovation that changed the world with a little glass and a little metal. A twisted thread around a translucent globe, containing one fine wire filament – an invention that first brought controlled, lasting light to the earth – the light bulb.
On January 1st, 2014, the last incandescent light bulb rolled and clinked off a conveyor belt and into a storage rack, to be placed inside a cardboard box and sent to a store somewhere.
Perhaps I’m being overly dramatic, but no more so that CNN’s mawkish “obituary” of the incandescent light bulb that was posted to their website on the 31st. Perhaps the author believes that impropriety and flippant disregard for scientific and cultural achievement is funny, but honestly, Josh, it really isn’t.
When electricity was discovered, we didn’t outlaw fire – although perhaps we should have because of all the carbon emissions, you understand – but instead, society allowed fire to continue to be utilized by those who desired to utilize it. How regressive of society then, to continue to use fire even with the discover of electricity!
I can’t begin to explain how irritated I am by this decision. Much the responsibility for this lies on the shoulders of former US President George W. Bush, however, not all. How dare we, as American citizens, allow the creation of a society where incandescent light bulbs can be banned? This is our fault. We were foolish.
We have created a mutated, ugly system of government that has the power to ban, because we believed we could use government to solve problems. Yet the incandescent light bulb was not a problem, just a simpler technology. It did not need to be banned. So what have we done?
I believe there is nothing wrong with choosing not to use incandescent light bulbs. 1 Cor 13:4-5 says that love does not insist on it’s own way. God’s second highest commandment to us is to love our neighbor as ourselves. Love is not a large concept or a small concept; it is a universal concept. Love applies to light bulbs, because love applies to people and people are the only things in this world that care about light bulbs at all.
Let’s say our neighbor (and that means anyone; the world is our neighbor) wants to buy an incandescent light bulb and use it in his house, and our other neighbor wants to produce incandescent light bulbs in his factory. Yet we, for whatever reason, decide that incandescent light bulbs are bad and he shouldn’t be able to do so. Let’s say we rally large groups of people with a lot of power and influence and control – groups that decide whether or not our neighbor can keep his factory open, groups that control a lot of money. Corporate councils, regulatory committees, government agencies, etc. Let’s say we want to ban the production of incandescent light bulbs, and let’s say we succeed.
Now, our neighbor who owns a factory can no longer do what he wants. We’ve insisted and enforced that. As the number of incandescent light bulbs on the market dwindles from the lack of production, our first neighbor can no longer buy them. As the bulbs in his house burn out, he can no longer use them. I see claims that this is not a real ban, just a production ban, but the result is the same and that’s a flimsy argument.
Suddenly, we’ve insisted on our way, and suddenly, it seems we don’t love our neighbor all that much, because we don’t care to understand how our neighbor could possibly want to produce, or own, or purchase, such outdated technology like the incandescent light bulb. As we ban this piece of technology, I suspect we don’t possess much love for our neighbor at all.
But now we come to the point where, according to modern argumentative writing standards, I’m supposed to offer a solution. Honestly, I don’t have one. The time for a solution was before Congress voted and our former President signed this stupid law. We’ve made this bed, so we’ll sleep in it. You won’t find me kicking and screaming and pounding my fists to bring my incandescent light bulbs back. As much as I love the aesthetic of Edison bulbs and I’m, frankly, a bit heartbroken that by the end of 2014 I likely will never be able to purchase one again, I am only one person.
America has decided that mob mentality propping up horrible lawmakers is the desirable way, and the very nature of mob mentality is difficult to fight. I hope this cuts through the throngs of fools propping up the kind of dismal leaders we have in this country, and that we see what we’ve done. We should be ashamed.
This is my elegy for the incandescent light bulb.
P.S. I’m sorry that this was histrionic, I tend to get like that when my freedom is being taken away.