I was born in 1933. In my early years growing up there was no television, computer or iPhone. For me the defining moment, a mighty leap in my development, came when I was six and took out a library card! I became enamored with words and the pictures they conjured up in my mind. I would seek out a cozy corner in our home and curl up for hours reading. My mother saw this as a waste of time. She would say, “Get your nose out of that book. Go outside and get some fresh air and sunshine!”
In the cultural milieu that exists today we are besieged by an insurmountable abundance of information provided by media in varying forms. Our culture is being seduced by technology. We have created a monster that threatens to consume us. I have a neighbor who is bold and fearless. She doesn’t own a television set! When she isn’t working she sews quilts which are works of art. She sets aside time for the Girl Scouts and volunteers in the community. She has discovered a profound truth, we humans are meant to be part of the creative process. Music, dance, painting and crafts offer an opportunity for self discovery. Strangely we have become a civilization that lives “inside.” We seldom see a sunset or look up into a night sky filled with stars. There are those who long to be close to nature. They come to Lanesboro to walk and ride bicycles along the Root River!
Those of us that are seduced by the media sacrifice peace of mind. The media thrives on conflict. Images flash across the screen designed to shock us and hold our attention. The programs are “padded” with “experts” sitting around a table speculating on what is happening in the world of politics. There are words and phrases designed to engage us, such as liberalism, conservatism and capitalism. The focus today is on socialism. Some liberals see socialism as a process for providing the middle class and the poor with needed goods and services. Some conservatives see socialism as “evil” and a threat to capitalism. In the New Testament, Jesus tells us that we should feed the hungry, cure the sick and that rich people should take care of the poor. He cautioned against “laying up treasures on earth where moth and rust doth corrupt.” Instead we should store treasures of the spirit. If Jesus walked among us today he would be declared a “Socialist”!
One night I happened to catch Sean Hannnity on Fox discussing what it means to be a liberal. He explained that, “If you are a liberal, you can’t be religious, you are not a patriot and most certainly you are immoral!” My dictionary describes being liberal as “open to new ideas, broadminded and tolerant.”
If anyone were to ask me today, “What is your favorite book?” my answer would be the dictionary. Perhaps it would help to ameliorate the confusion in our present discourse if we revived our “friendship” with Merriam Webster!