Saturday, December 11, 2010

"We're not in Kansas Anymore"

I love to read books – the kind that are bound and you hold in your hands and whose real paper pages your turn with your fingers.  I love to go to the public library and browse the real stacks where the titles and covers fire my senses and imagination.  I read one or two books a week and while I get totally into the plots and characters in each while I’m reading them, I often quickly forget them when I’m done and onto the next.  So on one of my recent visits I asked the librarian if the library kept a record of the books I’ve read (I thought this would/should/could be easy to do) – she looked at me and exclaimed: “No – that would be an invasion of your privacy and could be used inappropriately”. I was shocked that in this computer age this simple service would not be provided; but then I thought about what she said and I sadly had to acknowledge that this was probably the unfortunate result of the politically correct and sensitive world in which we live.  I guess they figure I have to be protected from those who would seek to harm me.

And then I saw in the papers this week that Google joined the e-book craze and will start to offer books in “the cloud”.  They boasted that people like me can now get a book, start it on an electronic reader, pick it up later on a mobile device and even later on finish it on a computer – and each time it would remember where the reader left off.  Clever!  I bet my librarian friend would ask what else would or could be remembered; I bet she’d complain that the folks at Google might compromise the privacy and protection that she boasted of. But, that’s not what’s bothering me: I want to know what the hell is going to happen to those bound editions that I love to hold in my hands and read? Where is this world going? I have no idea where we’re headed or what else will be challenged and possibly changed; I just know that I want to continue to read and I hope that this fast-paced and innovative world in which we live doesn’t somehow screw up that little pleasure that I treasure so much. Like Dorothy, I guess we’re not in Kansas anymore.  And if that’s the case, can somebody please tell me where in fact we are, and more importantly, where we’re going?

Books that are printed and bound, like so many other things in and around our lives, are both beautiful and grand and thus, not surprisingly, my message this week is about grandeur.

“Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it.” 

Confucius was a Chinese thinker and social philosopher, whose teachings and philosophy have deeply influenced Chinese, Korean, Japanese and Vietnamese thought and life.  His philosophy emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice and sincerity.

I bet your mother taught you “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and that you learned at an early age that not everyone sees things the same way you do.  These are simple lessons that, once learned, are invaluable. You learn to appreciate the things you like and they become both familiar and attractive; they please you more than they do others. You most likely also find that as you talk about the things that please you, others may find them more or less pleasing than you. That’s because each of us is affected by the lives we lead and the experiences we’ve had and these leave impressions on us that are lasting, influential and indelible.  It doesn’t mean that anyone is more right than another; it just means that we each have our own opinions.  

Be open today and learn to see the beauty in others and to accept the things that they see and believe are beautiful, whether you see them or not.

Stay well (and warm)!

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