This is a tribute to miners everywhere.  These thoughts are prompted by ideas that kept recurring as I walked the decks of the USS O’Kane, a destroyer moored in Pearl Harbor.  My son, a Lieutenant Commander has just completed an 18-month tour of duty on this ship and is about to transfer to the USS Chosin.  He took me, my daughter, my son-in-law, my grandson, and his newly acquired father-in-law around the destroyer and introduced us to his former shipmates and the systems he had managed. 

 

We were all amazed and impressed by the fire power of this ship: the engines in the hold, the computers that automatically target the target, and the missiles packed in neat rows ready to receive coordinates and to destroy.  Overwhelming was the shear mass of metal:  raw and exposed, gray and white, beam, column, and plate.  We were acutely aware of its vulnerability, remembering USS Cole and the blast and deaths. 

 

And yet I could not but help think of the mines from which all this metal came: of the drilling, blasting, trucking, crushing, grinding, and processing required to bring this metal to a shipyard and turn it into an instrument of policy, defense, and yes, of attack.  Just visible across the blue waters was the Arizona Memorial, a simple floating tribute to the men and women who died on a similar calm Sunday in the attack on Pearl Harbor.  I recall seeing the name of one of the victims, Charles Caldwell, Jr.  I can find nothing more about him other than that he died on the Arizona and still lies in the blue waters as we cavort in pleasure around the sunny island.  

 

I am not a historian.  I am not an economist.  And unlike my son, I do not have a degree in political science, but I offer these simple thoughts in tribute to miners and metal workers, the navy, and the dead in Pearl Harbor.  I recall reading somewhere that politics is the pursuit of access to and control of resources.  Is it possible that the attack on Pearl Harbor was simply an extension of a thrust to gain access to the resources needed to support an expanding economy?  Is it possible that if mines had been producing and the mined materials had been moved around in accordance with reasonable business principles that the imperial instinct would not have awakened and the attack would never have occurred?  Is it possible that if the mines had been working at full tilt and the mined materials wisely deployed we would have been better able to ward off the attack? 

 

In the eighties, I roamed the west and saw the old uranium mines, and I know that it is mining that was at the start of the activities that brought this carnage to an end.   I make no apologies for the bomb; I knew an old man who as a young man was standing by to join the fleet and take part in that slaughter that was the Pacific arena, and then the bomb dropped and all fighting stopped.  After he got his degree he chose to work on the mines that produced the uranium to make the bomb that saved his life.  So I thought of him as I ducked to avoid a low-slung metal beam and gazed at the hardware that is a destroyer. 

 

But I also thought of my son, who is now part of a mighty fighting machine, and of my son-in-law’s remark that the hardware could take out an entire city and country if we chose.   I happily admit to support the notion of deterrence; the threat of mutual destruction by nuclear means, I suspect, kept the world safe for me to bring up my children, and I suspect that this mighty destroyer and its sister ships are a key part of the system that keeps the world safe for my grandson, who gazed with silent curiosity at the many new things that crossed his gaze.   And this ship is the end result of mining, so I return to write this piece, for that is I all I can do—a kind of thank you and tribute, regardless of its political correctness. 

 

I returned to Vancouver, its scorn of military and political parties calling for withdrawal.  I drank and smoked one evening with a friend as we examined the Norman invasion in 1066 of her homeland.  We talked of those French-speaking Vikings looking across at the fertile fields of England when they decided to set forth in their ships and destroy the offspring of the Angles and Saxons, who centuries before had crossed the waters to displace the Celts and send them scurrying across the hills to Wales and across the seas to Ireland.  These invasions were, I suspect, prompted by a search for resources.  Much as in the interglacial periods, folk had somehow come to the Americas from the west and much later Europeans had come from the east.  And the Japanese would have come from the west had we not had the products of mines. 

 

Is it true that no two countries that both have McDonalds have ever fought each other – the Golden Arches theory of conflict prevention?  I hope we can find data to prove that no two countries that freely exchange the products of mining have ever gone to war against each other.  Or is it simply that nations with reasonable access to mined products have no need to go to war—their middle class would not allow it?

 

My mind blinks at this thought and I avoid thinking of the users of TechnoMine who are in states at war with each other. Maybe they can communicate with me and share their thoughts, and maybe together we can spread information about mining to make mining more efficient. Maybe all this will make so freely available the products of mining that their nations will drop their bellicose thoughts, intentions, and actions. Roll on mining and the peace that seems to come with successful mining.