The Idea of the Thing or the Thing Itself?
Preservation of historic artifacts is making national headlines at the moment. While the current headlines pertain mostly to war monuments and memorials, the talking points around the arguments certainly reinforce the impacts of “reminders of history” in our society. One thing is abundantly clear in the current debate: Reminders of our past can serve as powerful talismans in our journey into the future.
In college, we were taught the Value Theory Concept, which, boiled down, simply asks: Which is more valuable, the idea of the thing or the thing itself? In some cases we see that in an instant a valuable historic artifact disappears forever. In other cases we watch over time as a valuable historic artifact degenerates into nothingness. There is no “thing” there anymore, and the idea of the thing is that much harder to conjure up. An artifact can sit for generations and provoke no apparent thought or passion, and then suddenly cause a passionate eruption of volcanic proportion. An artifact can sit for generations and provoke no apparent thought or passion, and then quietly help generate the birth of an idea that grows to change our world.
Watching the 4th grade Brevard County Public Schools children tour our lighthouse, I’m confident that the “idea of the thing” is regenerated from their seeing, feeling and touching the lighthouse itself. George Santayana said that “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it”. I do personally thank each of you for helping us to preserve our lighthouse and its history. By joining us in the preservation of the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse, you are helping future generations to build upon the memories of those who have gone before us. I can’t wait to see where we go!
See you at the Lighthouse!