Altars as Interfaces to Government

We hiked the Redwood Peak Trail near Chabot Space and Science Center. We talked about all sorts of things as we climbed through the mist on cloud-soaked roots and rocks. At Redwood Peak, we admired the scene – scattered hilltop stones ringed by redwoods on the crowned hill. The slopes of the ridge on all sides supported a staggered treetop canopy and other foliage. Nature-made, human scaled. Here at the point of two-legged triumph and natural communion sat a US Geodetic Survey marker.

U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey Triangulation Station REDWOOD 1946
U.S. Coast & Geodetic Survey Triangulation Station REDWOOD 1946. Photo by Jack Madans.

The government had been here. The government’s been all over the world, in our letters and phones, and in our bedrooms. Thousands have had the government in their bodies, willingly or otherwise. Thousands have had their bodies and homes torn apart by the government. Your tax dollars at work.

This NGS marker is not the same as a drone, or renewing your food stamps, or voting. Here sits a piece of work the government left for us to understand the world around us, anchored to a natural point of prominence. It was simple and provided a function and it didn’t get in the way of our enjoyment as the fog slowly broke to the gold of sunshine. It didn’t ask us anything, but we can ask it something if we want.

What if an artifact like this represented most, if not all, of our interaction with government? With governance? Cut the warplanes and the bureaucrats and just make things we can play with that go where we want to go. Put our tools of collective effort in places that matter, and leave the rest up to us.

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Preston

Agent of Change, Former of Entropy, Seeker of a Stateless World.

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