Swimming Against the Tide

Posted on February 1, 2012 by


In the book, Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child, author Anthony Esolen describes the modern process of creating non-thinking, unimaginative adults. It’s a process that begins in childhood and extends into adulthood, culminating in the culture we witness around us today:

Homogeneity is the rule. All television shows must look alike. All hamburgers must come from fast food franchises, and taste alike. States should mandate curricula for all their schools. Washington should in turn dictate to the states. Department heads should choose all the books for their teachers. Textbook manufacturers should flatten out all peculiarities of authorship. Newspapers should all read alike, and, if we can manage it, they should all be owned by only a few media conglomerates, and should hash out the same articles from two or three wire services. The language of the articles should be reduced to the blank stupidity of the old Dick and Jane readers. The Congress passes laws. Oh, pass laws, pass many laws! All little children should attend state-supervised daycare centers and watch public pablum on the television. Do not look at the stars.

The challenge to us is to swim against the tide. I’ll be honest and admit that it is not easy when you’ve been swimming with the current for the first dozen years of your children’s lives. It has been an uphill battle with our older children. Not only because they have grown accustomed to living the way everyone else has, but because so have their parents. We have made the turn in increments. Some have been easier than others.

Refusing to pay for unnecessary cell phone plans for everyone in the house came easy. Shutting off cable television was a little harder, and embracing true frugality has been harder still. However, we are determined. Determined not to give lip service to being set apart from the culture without being different in any discernible way. Hypocrisy is such a part of the modern way that most people don’t even bat an eye when they see it in themselves or in others. We brush it off with the comforting refrain, “Well, nobody’s perfect.” Indeed no one is, but one should at least aspire to be the thing he extols.  Author George MacDonald wrote:

“A man’s real belief is that which he lives by. What a man believes is the thing he does, not the thing he thinks.”

In other words, crusading rhetoric about how modern life sucks the creativity from our children, destroys the attention span, and discourages literacy isn’t enough to stem the tide. We have to make a conscious effort to unplug as much as we can and embrace the things that encourage creativity, focus, and literacy. We’ve started doing that, with more success in some areas than others. We still have a long way to go, however.

What lifestyle adjustments have you made in an attempt to rise above the din of our declining culture?

Posted in: Education