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Blog Title Card

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Op Ed: "A Tool Most Useful & Dangerous"

There has been a lot of buzz on social media since my post this afternoon, wondering whose today's guest essayist would be.

It's been a long time since we heard some words of wisdom from my old friend Gumball, noted Hobo Historian and legend of his craft.  His offering this evening certainly does not disappoint and will well worth the wait.  Enjoy.

I've walked the hallowed streets of transiency for near four decades.  

Before that, I knew the life-style through my brother, my uncle and my great-grandfather, who were proud vagrants of the train & way-fare variety.  I don't bring these topics up to boast, oh no.  There are men who have been living the lifestyle a lot longer and more effectively than I, who consider myself a mere steward of this earth.  

A student, never more.

Instead, I bring up my years ingrained in this lifestyle as credentials to comment on some of the changes I've observed, both in the short- and in the very long-term.

Technology is a tricky thing.  Used modestly it allows us some beautiful advances, such as chicken hock that can last, unrefrigerated, for months.  Or a way to make an egg be fully cooked yet so deliciously runny.  But when abused--well, you know what happens when it's abused, friends.  When abused we have a populace that locks itself behind four walls and reinforced doors, or travels in the tight-packed insulated bubble of an automobile.  We end up with children who have never had opportunity to look up at a star-soaked sky, or old men who lie down in their death bed without ever watching the sun rise over an unknown horizon.

Technology has it's place in a transient's life--we're much better off than our fore-fathers in a goodly number of respects.  But there is a reason we choose to live this life, friends.  Let us not forget that.  

There is a reason we choose to live without the clutter of so-called modern convenience always at our fingertips.  There is a reason we abstain from the cutthroat rat-race of today's society.

For full disclosure, I freely admit that I am writing this essay from behind the glow of a computer's screen.  I sit here in the New Haven Public Library at 6:30 PM on a cold Wednesday evening, although the temperature in here is a comfortable 72 degrees Fahrenheit.  I rationalize this--perhaps presumptively--by using my time on-line to advocate for the Transient Lifestyle.  And (to me, most importantly), when I leave this warm building at the end of my hour, I will return to a bridge or the underside of a boat dock, build myself a fire and share stories of times past with my vagrant brothers of the night.

As we move forward into the future, we are bound to see more transients with access to technology--be it cellular phones, lap top computers or even television and radio hook ups.  Some will accept this as part of the changing culture, and others will despise such sights.  I only ask that you all, as individuals, periodically assess your technology use and make sure that you are staying within your own self-imposed boundaries.

As with any other luxury  technology can be used to the point of abuse.  Let us never forget our purpose, friends, and not allow our way to be deluded by the unneeded use of technological tools.  Our way of life is not easy, but it is important.

It always has been.

Keep the flame, my brothers.


In solidarity,

Train Tom