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    #1

    Question What does "train of progress" mean?

    Hello,

    I read the following expression "train of progress" in some translated work. Upon searching the interent, I found it used here:

    No hope, just an awareness of what's being done now and what's been done in the past, is what Ronald Wright will permit in A Short History of Progress, his grim, ammoniacal Massey Lectures, the 43rd in the series. In five lucid, meticulously documented essays, Wright traces the rise and plummet of four regional civilizations--those of Sumer, Rome, Easter Island, and the Maya--and judges that most, perhaps all, of humanity is making and will continue to make mistakes equally disastrous as theirs. He gives general reasons first for not reckoning we'll pull back from the brink. Important among them is an anthropological observation. As individuals, we live long lives. We evolve more slowly than we should, given our lack of vision and our aggressive, selfish nature. We seem to lack the collective wisdom and the insight into cause and effect to realize the limits to what Wright calls the "experiment" of civilization. What Wright calls natural "subsidies" underwrite civilizations' successes. The squandering of those gifts presages inevitable failure, but with careful, canny stewardship, a civilization can manage to muddle through eons. Wright cites Egypt's submission to the limits set by the Nile's annual floods and China's windblown "lump-sum deposit" of topsoil, used for hillside paddies instead of being put to the plough. Wright observes with unrelenting eloquence that our planetary civilization lives precariously, far beyond its means. "Hope drives us to invent new fixes for old messes," he acknowledges, neither claiming nor wanting to be a prophet. We certainly have the tools for change and remediation; we also know what our ancestors did wrong and what happened to them. We're faced, our author observes, with two choices: either do nothing--what he calls "one of the biggest mistakes"--or try to effect "the transition from short-term to long-term thinking." His evidence suggests we're taking the first alternative, which will include a swift, final ride into the dark future on the runaway train of progress. Wright's account tempts one to bet on the rats and roaches. --Ted Whittaker



    My question: Is it an English term? Or, is it an idiom? What does it exactly mean?

    Thank you!

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: What does "train of progress" mean?

    It's not "train of progress". The idiomatic part is "runaway train". In this case, it's the "runaway train" + "of progress". Do you understand what a runaway train is, when used metaphorically?
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  3. Newbie
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    #3

    Re: What does "train of progress" mean?

    Thank you for the explanation. No, I have never heard of 'runaway train'. I could not find it in the internet. Could you, please, enlighten me?

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    #4

    Re: What does "train of progress" mean?

    Quote Originally Posted by aburisha View Post
    Thank you for the explanation. No, I have never heard of 'runaway train'. I could not find it in the internet. Could you, please, enlighten me?
    A literal runaway train is a massive machine that's out of control. Metaphorically, it's anything that has so much momentum that it can't be stopped.
    I am not a teacher.

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