Faster Horses

After reading David McCullough’s 2015 book on the Wright Brothers, I wanted to visit the Wright Cycle Company (if it still existed) where, in 1903, the brothers built the first airplane. So, I went to Dayton to the Aviation Heritage Park. But I was disappointed. The Wrights’ shop, along with their family home, had been moved in 1937 to Greenfield Village, an outdoor museum in Dearborn, Michigan. Greenfield Village was the vision of industrialist Henry Ford, who wanted to showcase American innovation and preserve the nation’s history.

Greenfield Village is an amazing place. It includes the lab where Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, the courthouse where Abraham Lincoln practiced law, and the home where Henry J. Heinz started his packaged food business, all carefully moved there under Henry Ford’s direction. The Henry Ford Museum includes the bus Rosa Parks was riding when she refused to give up her seat. There are exhibits on design, transportation, energy, leisure, and creativity. The legacy of Henry Ford himself, who revolutionized automobile mass-production, is center stage. And all this is set within the context of freedom, justice, and the struggle for civil rights.

The museum asks, “What if Rosa Parks had simply moved to the back of the bus?” or “What if the Wrights had given up?”

Henry Ford is quoted as saying, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said ‘faster horses.’” There’s no proof Ford really said that, and many object, saying it appears to devalue peoples’ opinions. But you can’t help but be struck, as you explore the Ford Museum, how vastly different strands of endeavor came together to form a nation.

But consider this. God is weaving together the strands of all lives everywhere into the infinitely greater future he’s creating. We all have a choice to follow a well-worn path or set off in a new direction. We can choose to keep trying or give up.

God is calling us into his future. Will we join him, or will we settle for faster horses?

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