Responding to Change

Journal 2005

I’m reading The Bible or the Axe: One Man’s Dramatic Escape from Persecution in the Sudan, by William O. Levi. The author’s childhood in an African village parallels the stories in Wes Stafford’s book Too Small to Ignore. I note the idealism of the simplicity of life, where there’s community and comradery and a commune with nature that is severely lacking in my current world. Am I mourning the loss of my childhood home where TV was unknown and family was all we had and the stars were so bright and there were amazing trees to climb?

What kind of a childhood did I give my kids? How can they appreciate nature when they’re cooped up inside the house in front of the TV all day long? (An exaggeration of course.) So, they’re grown now and can make their own decisions. What am I afraid of?

Today one daughter showed me the website where all her friends have gathered in cyberspace. With a click of a mouse, she can tell me the 56 other people who like Princess Bride. I marvel at this, for my boarding school classmates balk at joining a chat group!

Technology has taken over our lives. Entertainment rules. What happens to relationships in this media-crazed world? How do I find balance? I need to work out how I feel about TV, movies, entertainment, computers, cell phones, microwaves, telephones, digital cameras, Blackberries, iPods, iPads, etc. Funny, I never did learn how to program the VCR—but now there’s little need to because we have TIVO.

I remember my dad recalling how HIS dad lamented when farm machinery was invented. He said with a horse or mule, you both got to rest at the end of each row! And my Grandpa Peterson didn’t like gas-powered lawn mowers because they were so noisy. Does each succeeding generation chafe under the advancement of technology?

As I see it, there are two choices—complain that the world is leaving me behind—or stay caught up and use the resources that are handed to me. Would I really want to go back to the days of the washboard? I doubt it. I’m not hardy enough.

Later. The family gave me the heavenly gift of 24 hours with no TV. Silence meant more family time and interaction. I have strong opinions about entertainment, but I’m over-ruled and I’ve quit fighting it. I think there must be moderation and balance in all things. Lord, show me where I’m off-balance in my heart.

Principles to consider:

  • Does this activity, whatever it might be—TV, computer, social media—push me closer to God or away from Him?
  • Is it a moral issue?
  • Does it harm others or myself?
  • Is it used as a painkiller? An opiate? A coping mechanism?
  • Is my conscience pricked?
  • Check my emotions and my motivation if I do or do not do this activity.

A 2022 Update. What’s a VCR, TIVO, Blackberry, or chat group? How quickly our technology has changed. I remember when my nephew took a typewriter to school for show-and-tell and when my then two-year-old grandson showed me how to turn on his LeapPad. In those days I had no idea what the universal on-button looked like, much less what this gadget could do. I’m way behind in social media knowledge and pop culture. I think I’ll just go for a nature hike and leave it all behind!