The Veneer of Civilization

How thin is the veneer of civilization?

Thinner than you would like it to be.

It’s cracking then?

Veneer always cracks.

Then, are we in dire straits because it’s cracking, or are these days standard fare?

I could say both.

Oh for heaven’s sake, why would you do that?

I wouldn’t. Yes, I know I can be irritating, but I’m not sure why you’re asking me to assess the state of our communal being. Who am I to do that?

Who do you have to be?

Hm. I suppose the consequence of cracked veneer depends on the quality of the underlying wood. If it’s not sound, when the damaged veneer lets the elements in, the structure will decay and eventually, worst case, collapse. On the other hand, if the infrastructure is sound, and the piece is in a sufficiently protected area, you’ll have grandmother and grandfather’s dining room suite, whose wear and tear is a familial history map, maybe even a beloved one.

So then, now that we have our metaphors and allegories in place, what have we got? A cherished if bruised dining room table, or a sideboard laden with memories and meanings that will no longer stand upright?

I like the memories and meanings bit. We’ve got that, whatever else.

You’re really not much help, are you?

Less than you’d like me to be. But then, you always ask too much.

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