Hope shared

Sometimes I complain about technology. I still think that I am perfectly capable of turning a crank to lower a car window and there is no reason to have a motor and actuator in every car door. I’m unconvinced of the need for huge video displays in car dashboards and I still enjoy looking at an actual paper map to orient myself when navigating. I’ve never been a fan of television and watch very little of that media.

On the other hand I am a kind of gadget guy. I travel with a laptop computer nearly everywhere that I go. I have a smart phone and I’m not afraid to use it. I didn’t think I wanted a tablet computer but as soon as I got one I started using it every Sunday as I lead worship.

When our daughter was living in England I began using Skype for video conversations every week. Now with a new grandson in Japan I FaceTime a lot, sometimes multiple times in the same day. I love having instant photographs of my daughter and her husband and son. I love showing those photographs to friends and family.

It has been interesting to share the photos of our new grandson with our youngest granddaughter. She is just two years old, but she feels a deep connection with the baby who lives half a world away. Whenever I show her a picture, she tries to grab the phone out of my hand and pull it close to her face. She talks to the screen of the phone as if he were right in the room. Of course she has grown up with technology. She doesn’t find anything new or strange about pictures on a phone and she has been encouraged to talk to the faces on the devices for all of her life. The device is, however, enabling a genuine relationship and a connection that otherwise would be impossible.

We live in a rapidly changing world and each of us make choices about which changes to embrace and which to resist. Even when we don’t actively resist changes, there are things that change with which we are challenged to keep up the pace. I no longer have much of a need to be completely up to date with computer equipment. I use computers every day, but it doesn’t bother me that I don’t have the latest and most powerful machines. As long as I can write and publish my journal, I’m happy with the equipment that I have. I don’t feel the need to keep up with the latest in gaming or graphic design or a host of other uses for technological devices. I use apps on my phone, but there are a lot that I don’t bother to learn. I have a twitter account and occasionally post news about the church, but most of the time I ignore the medium. I don’t follow any twitter users and I don’t use the app to read about anyone. I’ve never gotten into snapchat. I have a facebook account, but can go for days without checking my feed. I am friends only with those who I know from face to face relationships and I rarely post anything on Facebook. You won’t find pictures of my grandchildren on my Facebook page, though I have tens of thousands of digital photos of them.

All the same, the world will be very different for our grandchildren. They assume that various technologies have always been around and they use them with ease and often without being aware that the technologies they use weren’t available to their parents when they were children. Our eight year old grandson knows how to use all of the remotes for the television and he knows which Netflix programs he is allowed to watch. Our five year old granddaughter knows which buttons to push on the remote fob to open the doors on their car.

Our grandchildren are not growing up in a home that allows much time in front of screens, however. They play outdoors every day. They entertain themselves with games and toys. They spend part of each day in the garden with their parents. They have a strawberry patch and plenty of tomato plants and know how to choose ripe fruit to eat fresh from the garden. Their games often involve the world they know. Yesterday an elaborate garden was drawn with sidewalk chalk, including berry plants and apple and cherry trees and corn and other garden plants. They can walk to a nearby park and enjoy playing on the slides and swings. They live near a lake that is just right for wading and swimming and water play. They are entertained by mud pies and running through the sprinkler and making their own toys out of items they can readily find around their home.

Most importantly, from my point of view, our grandchildren are learning to play with each other. The eight year old helps the two year old and the five year old pitches right in. I am in settings where people are so divided by into groups by age that I meet children who don’t know how to play with others of different ages. I know quite a few adults who don’t spend much time at all playing with children. Life is so much richer when we spend time and get to know those who are different than ourselves. I am delighted by every opportunity to spend time with children.

Of course I’m delighted with and amazed by and proud of my grandchildren. But I know others who are equally amazing. Not every child in our country is being raised in front of television screens. There are lots of kids who run and play and enjoy the outdoors. There are lots of kids who have chores and who learn to pitch in when help is needed. There are lots of kids who are creative and learning. And those kids give me great delight in the present and hope for the future.

One of the responsibilities of elders in every society is to instill hope in young people. We get our inspiration and our hope from those young people themselves. It is a great system.

Copyright (c) 2019 by Ted E. Huffman. I wrote this. If you would like to share it, please direct your friends to my web site. If you'd like permission to copy, please send me an email. Thanks!