Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Very Literate....still not reading...is this you?

I promise not to get snarky. But on the other hand...sometimes it's the ones who aren't afraid to be jarring....that get the proper attention.

Let me just spit it out. My beloved country of Canada has spent billions and billions of dollars and millions of man hours and decades of effort to establish and maintain our publicly funded educational system. 

We, as in most of us Canadians are, .... a  very literate nation.

We know how to read. We can count really fast. We know how to print/write/type words to express ourselves  quite clearly.

But what is it....this vague feeling that brings me despair....it makes me queasy....I feel uneasy.

I feel like Canada has built up a massive infrastructure to accommodate a brilliant and well educated populace....but bam......so few of us are taking good advantage of it.

Canadians, once they start their work careers are not inhabiting the lively campuses of our colleges and universities. We are not engaged in ardent discussion about issues of the day, inventions or scientific or philosophical principles.

Once folks start a career they seem to allow themselves to be lulled by a smoky prosperity into passivity and a certain destiny malaise. They feel like it is too late to really become a mover or a shaker. Then ooops...we conveniently forget how to learn! We forget how much we used to love learning and discussing and upsetting the status quo. We cease to revel in the refreshment we used to feel when we pioneered a new way of thinking.. speaking or being.

We become obsessed with creature comforts....more channels, trendy throw pillows and the best Keurig. We think the world will fall apart if we don't take the right vitamins or eat organic lettuce. We join the best gym.

We content ourselves with making a stylish living....and surround ourselves with a million ways to calm and entertain us.

Canadians are reading.....social media posts and little else.

Popular Literacy is not the same as real literacy.... which empowers us to ask great questions, get creative and invent new thoughts. Do we read/write anything of substance? Do we treasure those who write well? Who challenge our mindsets?
Do we revere those who get us to think in new and creative ways? Do we value those who invent new ways to make a living or creations that inspire?
Do you have a favorite author? We have forgotten the beauty of a well timed written opinion supported by diligent research.....because that would just take too much time.
 We seek entertainment.... but not anything factual please! 

We are single-handedly responsible for killing the newspaper industry in our beloved Country.
(yes, "Cry the Beloved Country".....Cry!)
Sorry techy humanoids, but Online newspapers have not adequately filled the gap.Too much click bait....not enough quality content. Most Online mag or newspaper subscriptions pale in comparison to what we used to read in person, hands on....in black and white.

Let's be frank. Social media has replaced real news media
Who cares about fact checking when we have really cool Emoji's?

Few of the humans I see and interact with on a daily basis are even remotely engaged in learning anything other than social niceties.

( I honestly apologize that I don't yet have the statistics to back up this unease....as the feeling is very strong and disquieting.)

I see folks all over my city lining up patiently for lottery tickets,buying smokes, and booze. I see them lining up for hours to go see a movie or a rock/pop concert. I see them wandering the malls. I see them walking their pure bred dogs with religious regularity. I see them shopping for cars and waiting nervously at the bank to apply for yet another credit card or figuring out how to finance another new SUV or Cuban vacation.

I am stumped. The bookstores in my town are gorgeous.... full to the brim with all manner of intelligent inventions and discussions. But it is the Starbucks attached to the book store that has the longest lines and most fervent following. Craft breweries draw their faithful drones. The college library is open to the public....but inhabited mostly by furtive young students studying for exams. Mainstream folks are not present by and large in our institutions of higher learning. Why have we excluded ourselves??? 

No really, I do actually want to know. I want to know how to integrate the general public into lifelong learning and perpetual intellectual discovery. I want the mind of my city to stay relevant .....to be alive and fruitful and creative and to design new and imaginative things.

Churches are filled with social engineering.... no quiet study of doctrine or church history.
Church has become a BBQ or a Tea party with those who think they've arrived. We care more about the cushiness of the pews we sit on, than what is being taught from the pulpit. We care more about the
fashion statement of the pastor's wife than the scripture verses being quoted by the speaker. We don't take what he says seriously anyway. If he's wrong....well then really......so what? We don't know the bible well enough any more to even detect if the verses are being misquoted. Our passivity and naivete have made us ripe for false teaching..

Ok ok......Let's rest from that train of thought.

In conclusion, (because I know we both really can't stand much more of this written conversation)....yes I admit it is a tad screamy.  I just want to say this. If my country stops reading and writing....and stops valuing those who do......we will become ( or perhaps have already become) a nation of hoodlums and scamps.

 We will hate the truth. We will hate kindness because it takes too long. We will hate thoughtful discussion because it isn't fun enough...or because alcohol is not served when we sit down to talk... We won't give credit where credit is due because the proper credit won't fit into our social media post's character maximum.

We will still be generous....but only with snarky comments and highly emotional critiques of how we hate each other's style. We will have urgent and vehemently strong opinions about all those things that.....really don't matter.

And to finally finish this blog post with a resolute thud....we will hate anyone who will tell us that we are missing the boat.....that the boat is floating away....to distant lands where words are still revered as powerful and minds are being carefully nurtured to think, create and imagine.

Is it too late? I do not know. But for now...the boat is still within the boundaries of our harbor....Perhaps we can convince it to stay..... with words.