Mobility creates change

Mobility is a vital component of trade, the fine arts, and knowledge in general.

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Sharon Cox
Contributed / Sharon Cox

As we gear up for summer, we know outdoor activities and vacations can’t be far away. That time of “getting away” from home for a short time may seem irrelevant in the bigger picture, but a well-educated person is also a well-traveled person. Among the first statements from college professors in history and the arts, is just that: “The greatest cause of change — of curiosity — is mobility.” Without knowing something different exists, you don’t know you want it or know about it. Mobility is a vital component of trade, the fine arts, and knowledge in general.

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Gen. Dwight David Eisenhower, the first supreme allied commander in Europe, realized the one component we did not have in the United States was a non-stop through-way across the United States. He saw the ability to move about freely as something he wanted to add to this country. When he became our 34th president in 1953, he set about getting the Interstate roadway system going.

During the latter days of World War II, “Ike,” as he was called, understood that mobility was also an equalizer during strife and warfare. It took the Federal Highways Act of 1956 and a $100 billion budget to accomplish the job of connecting every city in the USA with a population of 50,000 people or more together. That connectivity sped delivery, access and possibilities. It added jobs in raw materials, manufacturing and trade from then to today, and into our future. How he came up with the idea was not original, however.

While in Europe during WWII, he saw what the Germans did with their Autobahn Network. The Reichsautobahn system worked well, transporting goods and soldiers at speeds unheard of here. He saw the advantage of a non-stop, easy access and exit road system and wanted the United States to do the same. His mobility during wartime created the change we now have in our own country. Without the interstate system, it would easily double the time we’d spend on the road getting just about anywhere.

Without mobility, people repeat what they know. That means many generations might repeat some things that are not factual, not healthy, and nonproductive. Ignorance may be bliss for some people but ignorance allows the cult-builders of the world to lure and capture vulnerable humans in their nets. Information is how we build our own escape network, protecting ourselves from controlling interests that would lure us into a dead end.


It's why we educate our children and hope they seek out additional information/education once they are on their own. Travel is a valuable component, but so too is working a job while in school, taking music and visual arts classes, joining a music group, a church, a sports team and doing volunteer work. Learning how your own life differs from others gives incentive to research historic events, politics, medicine and even geography.

Curiosity builds strength. Without our immigrant ancestors, none of us would be in this country now. Whatever the catalyst for leaving their ancestral lands was, they brought their own history here and with the blending of all immigrant cultures, they pooled their resources and founded this land of freedom: the United States of America. As you plan where to go this summer, research what historical sites might be on your way there. The interstate highways will make it faster, but a short detour off the main throughway will give you added bonuses.

Check out small city libraries, restaurants and churches. Try to find the pre-interstate gas stations and roadway parks. Look for road signs describing events that occurred in those areas. If there are kids in the car, assign them the road-sign spotting job. A photo on their phone will give them additional proof of where they went and what they saw when they get back to school in the fall. “What I did this summer” has been a standard first essay for many an English class. Photos give them data they otherwise might forget.

But most important of all is the knowledge they and the family will have gathered about someplace besides home that kicks in a project at home brought back from your “educational” trip away.

If anyone has an item for this column, please send it to Sharon Cox, PO Box 1559, Jamestown, ND 58402-1559.

Sharon Cox retired in 2020 after 28 years at the University of Jamestown, including as department chair and professor of art.

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