Connections

Back in the 1970s and 1980s on PBS, there was a history of science show called _Connections_ hosted by James Burke that I was addicted to. I think it’s still alive and kicking on The Learning Channel, but since I don’t have cable or satellite, I haven’t seen much of _Connections 3_ except for the three-part VHS tapes that my hubby bought for my Christmas a few years ago. I quote the box set: “This humorous and upbeat science series shows that history is filled with seemingly unrelated discoveries that are actually connected in the most surprising ways. …the effects and origins of inventions and events that shape the modern world.”

I’m a science junkie, and so I ate all of that up, but what I got most out of these series is just how connected seemingly unrelated events in various parts of the world are. Various peoples, cities, and whole countries are interdependent in ways that ordinary folks, just living their lives, are unaware of, either because the origin of those connections are so far back in the past that they’re buried in time, or because those connections are so complicated that it would take certain people much time and education to suss all of those connections out.

And so, besides being a science junkie, _Connections_ contributed to me becoming a history and news junkie, for how could I understand what’s going around me now if I don’t know the history of what’s going around me now? And that history points back and points forward to networks of connections that link peoples, cities, and whole countries in a web of interdependencies that would surprise not only my limited-experience freshman students but my very practical-to-a-fault mom.

Knowing that connections like these are how the world works makes living in this world a less frightening place because, in my humble opinion, the fear of the unknown, to paraphrase Frank Herbert, “is the mindkiller.”

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