A Cup of Conversation – July 2016

A couple thousand years ago, a contributing writer to the world’s best-selling book penned, “If any man thinks he knows anything, he knows not yet what he ought to know.” ¹ I think we’re learning that unfettered access to information is inversely proportional to knowing the truth about anything. Speed and ease of acquiring limitless data only increases the probability of being fooled, so what have we gained exactly? A generation of young people with the world’s library a click away yet vastly less equipped to deal with life than ever before. Welcome to the 21st century.

I’m continually overwhelmed by the deluge of information flooding my soul every day and convinced our generation is not mankind’s finest hour. If I could raise kids again I’d kill the television, teach them by day classical math, non-revisionist world history, pre-Darwinian hard science, American civics and English literature. They would do homework by candlelight and kerosene lantern. Reading prose and journaling would be like breathing. Nature would be a tutor and critical thinking a constant companion. By mid-teens any kid with an average intelligence quotient would be far more capable with greater mental and emotional balance than the very best our universities currently produce. At fifteen, I’d give them a computer with plenty of band-width and watch them change the world. The television would stay dead.

We’ve been employing young people for almost thirty years. Just a couple of decades ago the boys and girls worked shoulder to shoulder in terms of initiative and focus. The girls always had the feminine touch, making customers feel welcome and special which is the secret sauce in relational health as well as retail coffee. Today, however, the girls work circles around the boys and still have the secret sauce. What happened? I’ll tell you what happened. Male adolescents became the Game Boy generation, spending their formative years in virtual reality. Now, without continual digital stimulation, the boys are largely distracted and lost to the bigger picture of how the real world works. Unfortunately, with the advent of smartphones, the girls are beginning to go the way of the lost boys. Thank you, Steve Jobs. If you don’t believe me, go to the mall and ask a public high-school graduate to count back change. Of course there are exceptions to the new normal, especially in our employ, but see if I’m not imagining things.

I’m not anti-tech but see the troublesome harvest of new technology in the bitter fruits of disillusionment, weakness of mind, and unpreparedness for the harsher reality life brings. A harshness of reality, by the way, that never changes with time. The tech-age was supposed to bring answers to the problems of the world but has only made us able to do more in less time but far less well. The world is still hungry, sick, and largely poor. Take a tour of any big inner-city and see just how far we’ve come in the progressive evolution of the Great Society. I read somewhere mankind is doubling knowledge every six years now. I’m not sure how that’s measured but fairly certain nobody can keep up so where will this leave us? The answer is very vulnerable.

Parents teach your kids to think, not compute. Require them to explore the classics in literature and philosophy to discover how the mind worked before social media, Xbox and cable. Reveal the life changing secret of compound interest and the scourge of debt. Show them how authentic charity is counter-intuitive to anything human knowledge can conjure up. Most importantly, ground them in the spiritual truths of creation that nature makes self-evident.² Lastly, have them drop off a resume.

¹ 1 Corinthians 8:2 ² Romans 1:20