Have you eve noticed that once a substance comes into use, humans somehow feel that the stronger the substance, the better?
Take sugar, for instance. When it was first discovered it was regarded as a natural sweetener. Then came rock sugar, a handier form to use because it came in a lump and you could chip off a piece for sweetness instead of pressing sugar cane to extract the sweet liquid.
But humans wanted even more sweetness, so they came up with cane syrup and molasses. Sweet, sweet sweet,, but storable in glass jars and ladled out carefully spoon by spoon. Then we sought even more convenience so we came up with brown sugar, one step down from molasses, and refined sugar–dry, sweet, easily storable, and available in a variety of forms from coarse to fine grains, to powder.
And that still wasn’t sweet enough so we came up with glucose and fructose, the ultimate sweeteners with which we have given ourselves and epidemic of diabetes. At each step of the way, stronger became, in our minds, better.
Or take coffee. When first discovered it came as a coarsely ground bean. Then we discovered that grinding the beans finer gave us a stronger tasting brew. Finally we ground it so fine that it became espresso that was so strong we could only drink it a demi-tasse at a time. And just for laughs we decided to take the caffeine out it it and called it decaffeinated coffee, as if that made it stronger but safer.
The same thing is true of tomatoes. First the fruit, then the slices, then the dices, then the slurry, and finally the tomato paste. Each step made the final product stronger and stronger for the limited space it took.
I never felt that stronger was better. Stronger was stronger as far as I was concerned. And stronger did not necessarily lead to safer or better. It often led to more harmful and dangerous. We seem to never be able to let well enough alone, but always seek to improve and strengthen the characteristics of the substances we use or consume.
Apply that same thinking to atomic bombs. First we learned to release the enormous energy of the atom. Then we wanted it stronger so we went to the hydrogen atom. Then we wanted really strong but “safer” so we invented the neutron bomb with the delightful characteristic that it kills any and every life form it touches, including insects, but leaves everything else intact. Imagine an earth full of empty buildings. What a charming thought, but that’s where we’re headed.
Our constant pursuit of the stronger, which we ironically call the “purer” is going to destroy us in the end. Stronger is not better. For lack of a better word, is is worser. I just hope we realize it in time.