On this day in 1886, the first motor car was driven in Germany by Karl Benz.
With more than a billion cars in the world now, it is hard to imagine what it was like in 1886. Life followed a simpler pattern. This meant that people had more time – for helping and understanding each other. On the other hand, travel was much more tiring and emergency services – police, ambulance and fire brigade were less reliable.
Driving a motor car is putting oneself inside a steel carapace and cutting oneself off from other people. However useful a motor car may be, it does not contribute much to general understanding and communication between people.
Today’s poem, The Lady of the Motor Car by Henry Lawson, has a flavour of that. Though written roughly one hundred years ago, it could apply to people today:
The Lady of the motor car, she stareth straight ahead;
Her face is like the stone, my friend, her face is like the dead;
Her face is like the living dead, because she is “well-bred “—
Because her heart is dead, my friend, as all her life was dead.
The Lady in her motor car, she speaketh like a man,
Because her girlhood never was, nor womanhood began.
She says, ” To the Aus-traliah, John! ” and ” Home ” when she hath been.
And to the husband at her side she says, ” Whhat doo you mean?”
The Lady of the motor car, her very soul is dead,
Because she never helped herself nor had to work for bread;
The Lady of the motor car sits in her sitting-room,
Her stony face has never changed though all the land is gloom.
Today I ask that I will not cut myself off from other people – I will try to communicate and to understand others