“‘Needs no maintenance’ is a lie.’”
– Petey, Schlock Mercenary
Book 19: A Function of Firepower – Part IV, by Howard Taylor
(Apr. 17, 2019)
What Petey, the nigh-godlike AI, is referring to is a system in a space station. He likes things that have moving parts and require maintenance, rather than things which ostensibly don’t, because when things need maintenance regularly, there is a vested interest in keeping them maintained. If not, then people get complacent, they forget all about how the system works, just assuming that it always will, and when something breaks, when entropy eventually “exposes the lie,” nobody remembers how to fix it, resulting in the absolute failure of the system. In space, that means everybody dies.
An outcome preferably avoided, no?
Somehow, that line, and its entropy-based implications, simply resonated deep in my heart, reverberating through my mind. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how it applies to… everything.
Machines? Yes, of course.
Buildings? Absolutely. There are entire industries based on this.
Roads? Yes. Unless you want them all to crack and crumble and be little more than collections of rocks and potholes.
Cities? Um, yes.
Countries? Oh, very much so.
Armies? Absolutely. If you want it to remain effective, that is, in doing its job.
Governments? Heck, yeah! I point you to every abuse of power, abuse of the law, abuse of human rights, abuse of people, and every great nation that fell from the stagnation of its rulers. On which note:
Civilization? Yes. Every civilization will crumble to dust when it is not properly maintained.
Relationships? Yes. How much suffering has resulted from neglected relationships between couples, families, friends, coworkers, colleagues, leaders and followers, and more? All of them need maintenance.
Religion? Definitely. Times change, circumstances change, the challenges to our souls change, even when they stay the same.
Philosophy, science, education? Yes.
Our bodies? Obviously, yes.
Everything needs maintenance in order to continue… being.
The spirit of maintenance is the spirit of attention, focus, and love, and it requires discipline. Without these things, applied regularly, even constantly, everything stops. There is no more progression, no development, and so everything stagnates, rots, and decays until it simply breaks and is no more. It’s gone, as if it never was.
Maintenance is, and must always be, required.