Take five minutes to read and much time to ponder

Take five minutes to read and much time to ponder

I love to talk with people. I also like to think and write. I enjoy my quiet, reflective, and creative time. Typically, a mug or two of black dark roast coffee is likely present. Writing helps me think, and thinking helps me write. Quiet, reflective, creative writing, and thinking continue to mold me.

I am dedicated to learning about what is around me and what is inside me. I must declare that writing feeds my soul. It does not matter if am a great writer or not. I love the process. I do not necessarily write toward creating a product. However, I would not be human if I did not declare that I do enjoy seeing and hearing if my “published” writing efforts gain traction! Now, several local folks have purchased my book.  When meeting me they said it was enlightening; too forward-thinking; and contained too many phrases asking readers to stop and ponder; and the church should read it. All good insights.

Recently, I submitted an editorial to a medical journal on robotics and postmodern society. I also submitted another paper to a university journal on the 4Asartificial intelligence, algorithms, and autocorrect all empowered by Lord Acton’s image of “power tending to corrupt and absolute power corrupting absolutely.” Given the raft of submissions that both publications receive, I doubt if I will even warrant a “Thanks, but no thanks,” rejection note.

This silent response is nothing new. I would estimate that of the 300-plus emails and notes I sent about my book, I received a handful of answers. Of the dozen free copies of my book, which I had to buy and then mail. I received one single thank you.

This is not a pity me piece but a reflection of what is taking place across society.

Perhaps, in part, anger is rising because people reaching out feel neglected or ignored. Or perhaps people feel so isolated, and/or buried in their phones that the art of conversation is giving way to confrontation. Maybe impatience is prevalent because we want or demand answers rather than wait, talk, or explore options. We can also see escalated violence in society. Possibly because of these and other social wants, we witness schools and churches as favorite places for mass murders. These events are not the work of one or two, but a result of our social failures. What is worse than this continuous stream of incidents is that we seem to the lack resolve to address this plague.

All this supports, very sadly, my premise that our society, and individuals, are so overloaded and overwhelmed with people, paperwork, work requirements, and pleasure all vying for attention that we are “trained” to be dismissive. This trained response was gradual and seemingly unintrusive. In other words, as the mountain of paperwork and waves of information increased in volume – thanks to the computer, the Internet, and smartphones – we slowly became victims of postmodernism. We picked and chose what to attend to and what to ignore. Sometimes instead of acknowledging or dealing with what we are, “receiving,” we simply become “senders.”

Today, anyone can create a blog. A blog (like this) is a written opinion piece posted on the Internet. Some are very insightful reflections on current events (like this.) Other blogs are professional or self-styled experts offering insights on a variety of topics, for example, cooking tips or hot vacation spots. Some bloggers blame liberals for all our social woes. While others blame conservatives. Yet others blame everyone for everything. Others are merely opinionated opinions. One’s blog may be a postmodern diary. It may appeal to multi-million followers or perhaps like me exists with the feign hope for just one reader. Additionally, anyone can create a podcast.

Yes, one can watch video tips on how to care for cats. A podcast might talk about the evil or acceptability of homosexuality. One can listen to various podcasts or “videos,” (despite tapes being obsolete) on how to play a guitar. Likewise, singers galore reach out on YouTube and elsewhere hoping that lightning strikes twice and one will become the next Justin Bieber.

With the rise of postmodernism from the 1960s onward book publishers changed how they approached publishing. With the onslaught of many new “want-to-be-writers,” discernment became more difficult. Previous, known best-selling authors were naturally retained. New authors were evaluated to see if sales would pay the salaries of seven levels of management and publishing costs. Yes, this is sarcasm. To what degree do publishers say, “Our formerly 3,000 book submissions per year are now 30,000 and we cannot digest that many!”  As a point of interest to what degree do publishers today say, “This book may not be a best-seller, but it represents a valuable resource of society so we will print it.” This is a question to consider.

With the ease of writing with computers, grammar, and spelling checkers, etc., the old practice of laborious detailed exacting planning, and then typing on typewriters is gone. It quickly faded into the sunset. Today, for example, a computer file that is 700 pages long can have a single word or sentence simply added and everything is automatically adjusted.

Blogs and book publishers in postmodernism deal with the joys, benefits, and challenges of “social media platforms.” Facebook, TikTok, Twitter, Zoom, Facetime, etc., now rule. Instead of filters such as proofreaders, or evaluation undertaken by skilled authors in one’s field of writing, etc., we have people blogging at will. “Stream of consciousness writing,” has replaced structured chapters, paragraphs, and sentences. Given all these and other realities the age of “writing” is truly immersed in an incredible paradigm shift.

Amidst all these social challenges and our need for speed, and instant answers – despite not deeply exploring questions – we are in the trap of sensationalism, and entertainment. We live in a tabloid world. News of the last mass murders in schools often shares the headlines, and space with the exclusive story of how a Hollywood star lost 20 lbs.; or found a new hair product; or is getting divorced, again. Alas, even with these items in front of us we are easily bored – well, at least until the next week when we read, of the next school shooting and another movie, television, or sports star’s vital narcissistic news. Are we shallow, or are we just “a mile wide and only an inch thick” – because we are overwhelmed by so much that we only deal with a little, and then, marginally?  We pick what we want to deal with and ignore the rest!

Oh, how we are so easily distracted and forget and neglect the pain of the world around us. We forget and neglect those victims and families of mass murders because we marginally address gun and mental health reforms. To deal with these matters with intention would cause us to look deep within ourselves. Avoidance is so much easier.

We forget and neglect the Earth because it is, after all, only a resource to consume (sarcasm). Now the planet is fighting back through climate change. Are we paying enough attention?

In many situations, brashness and an urgent need for avoidance leads us to evade looking at issues such as climate change, gun violence, mental health, and poverty. We only want to live in the moment – our moment!  Likewise, we forgot the value and virtue of humility. Humility is not thinking too much or too little of oneself. It is truly being comfortable in one’s skin and valuing others.

Perhaps you need some quiet, reflective, and creative time to consider these thoughts. Perhaps you might do so with a mug or two of black dark roast coffee supplements this time. Maybe writing may help you think, and thinking to help you write. Quiet, reflective, creative writing, and thinking I hope may mold you in more compassion for the self, for others, and for the earth.


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