The Great Awakening

I once wrote a research paper about the eighteenth century spiritual revival called the Great Awakening. It started in New England and spread throughout the other colonies of America. And I think the time has come for another awakening today due to the stupefying effect of the screen age in which we live.

I am reading a thought-provoking book titled Amusing Ourselves to Death by Neil Postman. It is subtitled “Public Discourse in the Age of Show Business” and it is a classic treatise on the hypnotization of humanity through the means of television but also other technological tools at our disposal. The book was written before the advent of the Internet but its wisdom is as timely as it is timeless.

I don’t know about you but it appears to me that people are virtually sleepwalking through life and sometimes literally asleep at the wheel, largely due to the perceived need to stay “connected” with others, usually ones not present with the person. Don’t even get me started about the continued threat of texting while driving despite its being outlawed in most states.

If I have a pet peeve it is when people attend to someone absent at the expense of someone present. I have traveled hundreds of miles to stay overnight with loved ones only to be left waiting at the door while they chit-chatted on the phone with others. Respecting people begins with valuing their presence and if that is lacking then it doesn’t say much for the relationship.

In closing, I recently read an attention-getting quote by Annie Dillard in The Writing Life: “We still and always want waking. We should amass half dressed in long lines like tribesmen and shake gourds at each other, to wake up; instead we watch television and miss the show.” I am not so sure about the half dressed part, but I think it would help to turn off all our screens and tune into each other.