Jon Murphy, over at Force 4 Good, has given me permission to reprint this concise and beautiful post. I often fall into the trap of taking everyday things like a simple cup of coffee for granted, and it takes something like this article to make me realize just how much I have to be thankful for, thanks to free markets and the resulting spontaneous order which is absent in the command and control jungle of central planners. The remaining words are all Jon’s.
Last night, I was reading the delightfully spooky/silly book Welcome to Night Vale by Joseph Fink and Jeffery Cranor. On pages 62-63 were these lines:
Josie produced a glass of water, through practiced manipulation of cupboards and valves and municipal plumbing. Neither she nor Jackie was impressed with the human miracle represented by how easily the glass of water was produced.
Leonard Reed could have written these words, as their sentiment is shared in his famous essay I, Pencil. Every day we are faced with these human miracles that allow us to live better lives. My coffee was grown in South America, roasted and ground in Seattle, shipped to Hooksett, and consumed in Concord, all without me having to know any part of the process. Every day, we bring water to desert cities like Phoenix or Las Vegas, bring tropical fruits to cold climates like Boston or London. Medical supplies are directed to where they need to be. People are satisfied the world ’round.
The greatest miracle of all is that there is no one directing this process. To paraphrase Adam Smith’s famous metaphor, it is as if some invisible hand were guiding it.
When we think “miracle,” the big, grandiose ones tend to come to mind: Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, Moses parting the Red Sea, etc. But we would be remiss to ignore the human miracles around us that have transformed our world to the closest thing to Eden we’ve had since we were kicked out.
[This article first appeared at Force 4 Good]