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Saturday, September 29, 2007

Illumination of Character

Every once in awhile the stormy skies of life's journey opens wide and allows history to shine on an individual so brightly that it exposes their recipe of character, causing it to stand out. One of these periods of time was the 1940's. Names like Churchill, Eisenhower, Hitler, Patton, and Montgomery bring to mind the differences in character foundations and how history illuminated those foundations.

In more recent times we see names like Bush, Clinton, Hussein, Blair, and Franks being recorded in history's pages but the level of character appears to be very different. If we were to use an individual's words and actions as a measure of their character we may start to form an opinion that history has been forced to record individuals with weaker character foundations. Or, we may want to spend some time investigating the cause of this apparent depreciation of character in today's society. We may want to look at some very important developments in society that have had a great impact on the reduction of personal character development. When leaders can watch an armed conflict in real time from the safety and comfort of their home, what happens to their struggle with the risk involved in such a conflict? I do not want to shine such a bright light on armed conflict. I would rather only illuminate it for a moment as a measure of what I think is happening on a bigger scale in the shadows of life.

How has technological advances affected our personal character development, interpersonal social development, and our overall coping skills? What adverse impacts are we going to reap from things like; X-box 360, PS2, texting, GPS, Internet social spaces and the like. Yes, I am forced to admit that many of these things have a very positive side. But have we asked ourselves about the long term downside of these things? The comments and reactions of my own children have brought these issue to light for me. True, television had a similar effect on my generation. But, today, I am forming the belief that technology is destroying our want to explore our environment. The level of awareness of who lives next to us, whats lays beyond the field behind our house, or the importance of failing, losing, or falling down and getting back up and dusting ourselves off is becoming no more than pushing the start button and playing another round.

How many of life's character building struggles are we going to rid society of? The easier we make life, the weaker we are becoming as a society. Take a warrior from the past. He would feel the toils of battle. The blood, sweat, tears, and the need to dig deep into his own foundations to bring to bear what was needed to overcome adversity. The warriors of the future will do an eight hour shift in front of a computer screen controlling automated machines thousands of miles away. After their shift they will head down to the bar get a drink or two, watch a movie, get a good night's sleep and report back in the morning for another eight hour shift. Am I the only one that sees the huge difference, or the negative impact of such advancements on the individuals character development? The already shifting values and principles of today's youth should be a huge red flag. We are inadvertently desensitizing our children to the very issues and struggles that create strong interpersonal character. What kind of character will history be forced to illuminate in the future?



His Girl Friday said...

I find your portrayal of the armchair soldier pushing buttons then going out for a drink quite chilling but I can see this aseptic version of warfare as a possibility with technology removing the human element, and desensitizing people/soldiers. (esp people/children starting with their computer 'wargames')

At my work, I deal with life and death. I've seen death in various forms and it's nothing like what television portrays...the sights, the smells, the fading light from the eyes, hearing the last gasps of air; the mournful cry of a mother holding her child.
I do see how the television sterilizes it all...skip to the commercial, time for more chips and salsa, get me another beer...

I agree with your, "The easier we make life, the weaker we are becoming as a society". Life used to be hard, and still can be. But before, there was no social safety net of government assistance, no calling emergency services, with mothers giving birth at home, and old ones dying at home in their beds,...it was part of the accepted life cycle, and consequences good and bad of choices made. Now, many are so far removed from this and we live vicariously thru the telly and the internet/my space, and there's always the replay button. I'm not advocating going and living in the 19th century, (trust me, indoor plumbing is very much a good thing)...but I think too many do not appreciate the people who have gone before them and the struggles that they embraced and endured.

I may be a little off topic here, but I think it may be along a similar line. I do agree that the internet can be a positive aspect in being able to communicate with others. I enjoy sharing on the blogs and corresponding with my internet penpals probably much more than I interact with my neighbors (esp the ones with the nyaffing poodles) ;)

Technology should be an addition to exploring our environment, not replace it. As for the social element...I'm guilty by blog association, and very grateful for those who wish to share their lives and thoughts! :)

Talking Bear said...

HGF, Great point of view. I would guess you are in the medical field and have seen/experienced some hard times. Thanks for sharing here. There are, I think, many understandable reasons society has taking the route it has. For example; in many areas the safest thing for our children is to stay inside and be absorbed by electronic games. How do we encourage our children to explore their environment when there are predators living near by?

His Girl Friday said...

I've seen and heard (from reliable sources) of the dangers lurking about in the area where I live, so I've chosen to be very careful in where and what I allow my children to do, even to the point of raised eyebrows from some friends and family. But then, I say, is ignorance bliss?
To be honest, I resent it, and I'm sure there are some 'safer' places to live, perhaps. I resent the fact that I cannot let my children go play and explore like I used to as a child...basically running free in the woods, scrambling over rocks, playing in the stream, exploring an old barn. The only consolation is that we were able to purchase some property with our home that was zoned for livestock. My children have the experience of tending to various farm animals, climbing trees and building 'forts' at least here on the property, as well as my husband and I take them on 'adventures' up to the mountains and elsewhere.
Still, it is much better here than elsewhere in the world. But as the focus is here, I will say that far too many children are kept indoors or in regulated activities which I think stifles creativity and the adventurous spirit. I'm not sure I have an answer for this because I really don't see the 'safety' factor geting any better. Parents just need to be involved in the children's lives and look for ways to spark 'adventure' and life-teaching skills.

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