In the winter we complain about the cold, and in the summer we complain about the heat. I try to convince myself that I love all the sharp winds of the north and the warm dry breeze from the south, but there is a lot to be said for the comforts of the modern home. However, the direction God has me going with the Kids Outdoor Zone Youth Adventure Ministry, I don’t spend a lot of time cuddled up inside.
I had a friend tell me the other day that society, in his opinion, began to degenerate when air conditioning was created. He believes that when people began to stay inside to be cool, we became detached from each other and thus began societal detachment (I just made that word up but I think it works). People quit sitting on the porch, taking slow walks, enjoying each other as neighbors in many ways.
I think societal detachment happens in a lot of areas. Next time you’re driving in your car, look and see how many folks are driving alone. Our cars are very sacred in this country. I know for me that my truck, in many ways, is a safe haven when I am traveling or even when I need to think about something important. The Ipod is another way we detach. You don’t interrupt folks or try to spark up a conversation with someone who has their earphones in.
For me, I get frustrated when I am talking to someone who pulls out their phone and reads a text message. Can I just say to them right now that is totally not cool and I have been known to walk away? Look at all the kids walking around with a phone right in front of them typing away the whole time you watch them. Not only are they not learning to communicate verbally but they are also doing it in a non-expressive way. They can end a relationship, beat another kid down and laugh all in symbols and letters. And it can still hurt or make them feel good about themselves.
Does anyone remember when we used to call each other and talk for hours? Now you Facebook them, text them and e-mail them a long note without punctuation or correct grammar. Is there a kid out there under 20 who has ever written a letter to someone with paper and pencil today? I am thinking a bar that serves oxygen, plays funky music and has pens and tablets of paper might work. Call them Twain bars after Mark Twain, the author, remember him? Make it cool to write letters. I would go, but then I am old.
What about reading? I think the art of reading is waning in the younger generation. My friend Ben Rehder, an author, was doing a trade show once with me, and there were kids everywhere. When they would come up to his table and ask what he had for them he would say, “Books, kids. Look, you can read them.” They would run off immediately because he had nothing free to offer, and, for the most part, I don’t think mystery novels about the outdoors interested them much. But then, not reading isn’t just a kid thing; most adults are not readers -- I mean book readers. But I digress.
There is a day we have recognized as National Get Out of Your House Day, or National Sit In Your Yard Day – something like that and it works to get some people outside and meet their neighbors. That can only be counted as a plus, but will we ever really have the opportunities to befriend those crossing our living areas again?
The Lord calls us to share the Good News of his gift. It happens in many ways, but human to human connection, emotional and heartfelt, is most powerful. He wants us to know those around us, care for them, include them in our life story.
I Facebook, I text, I use my cell phone when I shouldn’t, I am imperfect for sure. I do, however, strive to do better. This summer, this August, take the time to get outside and enjoy your family, meet a neighbor or a few of them. Take your family on an overnight camping trip or a ride to the lake for the day. The key will be to leave the electronics behind, which that includes the kids’ stuff. Turn off the world beyond your immediate reach and watch how God will move to speak to you and your family. I bet you God will put someone into your life that day who will be amazing and awe-inspiring. You wait and see! Then e-mail me how the day went. I would love to hear the stories.