Once a great nation adopted petrified wood as its symbol. In the past this particular great nation had taken pride in claiming that an eagle and only an eagle would do to represent it, but in an anxious age, when standing fast against threats both from without and within was how its highest officials saw their role, something less prone to flight than a bird, however majestic, seemed called for. The choice of petrified wood as the new symbol wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision. It was, instead, the outcome of a long national debate. Numerous suggestions of flowers, animals, historical figures, natural monuments and so forth were made, but given the temper of the age, when a mix of personal and official anxiety created an atmosphere of rising paranoia nearly everywhere, petrified wood easily carried the day. This outcome was no surprise, therefore. What other symbol could one count on in uncertain times to be so solid and everlasting? Conditions might change, challenges might change, the world might change, but petrified wood would remain rock steady through it all. Petrified wood could be relied upon to resist all the day-to-day forces that shape and reshape reality and thus maintain for eons the exact state in which it had turned to stone. Beyond its obvious value in terms of ensuring the nation enjoyed a never-changing image of itself, petrified wood had real commercial potential as well, always an important consideration but particularly during periods of economic stress and social jitters. When comprehensive programs to address these concerns seemed just too difficult for the country’s elected leaders to agree upon, there would still be entrepreneurial opportunities at roadside souvenir stands stocked with petrified versions of spacious skies, amber waves of grain, purple mountain majesties, and fruited plains. Nor was that all. The country’s flag might also be rendered into fossilized pins for all those whose patriotism could fit on their lapels.
Copyright © 2020 by Geoffrey Grosshans