I read an article this morning in The New York Times that saddened me greatly. It saddened me from several perspectives. Maybe not quite so much saddened on this one as astounded: the rampant pace at which inter-personal media preferences are changing. Just five years ago email was the communication vehicle de rigor. Read on and you’ll find that today it is all about NOW — instant communication, instant responses, instant blurts in the form of instant messaging and text messaging. Even phoning is way down the preferred list. What does this all mean? Great philosopher that I am, (cough cough), I wonder about the long term effects on society and culture. Such instant forms of communication don’t set pathways to careful and thoughtful ways of interaction.
My second source of great chagrin is the loss of the language. Yes, loss. In the flurry of faster, faster, faster, words are abbreviated into private forms of shorthand that are even difficult to translate among seasoned users. Everyone, so it appears, has his or her abbreviated alphabets, thereby butchering what was once a uniform and magnificant language.
And so — we lose our ability to be thoughtful and we lose our language. Sigh. So speaketh an old, curmudgeonly English teacher.
Haiku — remember when we had to write them so many moons ago in grammar and high school? I used to love writing haiku. Now my head is filled with so much imagery and magic from solstice’s long shadows that the haikus are seeming to seep from the very cells of my brain.
OF THE SOLSTICE
Owl echo haunting
Winter’s early shadows show
Footsteps in the snow
I was having a conversation with a young man, a gaming addict all of 14, where the point of my discussion was to encourage pay-backs — but only in the positive sense. It’s like this I said to him, — this is no free ride. It’s time to start thinking about contributing to the world, to society, to life. Simply put , I told him, — you must earn our oxygen.
The young man looked up at me, bugged eyes at that phrase and I honestly didn’t have the slightest clue where it came from. But I liked it. I became quite impressed with myself. Face it, the phrase has panache.
Back to business. Think about it. Oxygen is no longer the pure, abundant natural resource it once was. You know the drill — pollution, volcanoes, more pollution, oil slicks, and even more pollution. We are screwing up. The world and her resources don’t owe us squat, but we have a hefty IOU mounting up in the form of destroyed and diminished resources.
And so — the days of being owed our oxygen are gone. Instead, I proffer that we find ways to, most aptly said, earn our oxygen.