This I Believe

Russell - Moscow, Idaho
Entered on May 3, 2007

Teaching Philosophy

In this increasingly impersonal techno-mc-world, I believe that written English is gaining importance in direct proportion to the rate at which it is bastardized and mangled in the blogosphere, culture of quick emails, and realm of text messaging. Standards of written presentation are declining exponentially while, simultaneously, formal communications and first impressions are increasingly electronic. I cannot shake the feeling that, in American culture, proper grammar is an endangered species.

I also fear that self-awareness has been plummeting in a horrible counterpoint to the decline of English. Children have televisions instead of baby sitters, computers rather than parents, and Harry Potter is one of the few books many have ever read. Deep, critical thoughts about themselves or their worlds come when spurned by computer games, and philosophizing is as foreign as reading for pleasure (I hope I am being unfair and have met poor examples of the younger generation. Please, if my perceptions are off, point me in a direction that will help get me back on).

I find this terrifying.

Literacy must spread. The younger generation must discover the joys of books, the five-sense wallowing, the titillation. Writing must spread, and people must become aware of what drives their identities. I believe in writing as salvation, true, physical and mental salvation—just try to find someone who has recovered from physical or mental trauma without trying to put it on paper—and I believe that writing is the best hope for the world ahead, especially given the dominance of electronically-printed words.

I believe that there are kids who are unreachable because they are so content with the virtual worlds in which they live, but I also believe that others have spent as much time searching for definition and direction as I have. I believe that words are the best way to access the kids, and the best way for kids to access their worlds. I believe that words can provide safety and sanctuary for anyone, if only they meet, and I believe that words connect generations as much as cables used to connect telephones. Words are the semiotic core of our communication, and communication is the heart of humanity. I use words to connect with the past, to teach my classes about who they came to be, to help them explore who they are, and I believe that words will shape who they become, that words will continue to shape the world.