Monthly Archives: September 2015

Pro-choice

As time goes by I realize I’m being discriminated against more and more often, and I’m certain it’s only going to get worse. I’m not being treated unjustly because of my race (that’s another story) or due to my religious beliefs. I suppose I could be considered a victim of age discrimination since I’m singled out and treated differently based on my fondness for “the good old days.” I’m mostly discriminated against though for maintaining a pro-choice attitude pertaining to advanced technology that is obviously running rampant in the world today. I’m not opposed to progress, but I am against forcing it on people.

“The man” (whoever he is) insists we blindly accept change, whether we like it or not, without even considering the consequences. He continuously and vigorously imposes his will on us until ultimately we are either too exhausted to continue resisting or else we’re left feeling inadequate when we don’t succumb. I often think the younger generation, who I’m beginning to suspect may be “the man” (in this instance), is eagerly waiting for those of us a bit leery, of their pursuit of never-ending advancements in technology, to expire. The reason being there would then no longer be any of us left, to challenge the only kind of life they’ve ever known, regardless of how well-intended we were with our warnings.

Fortunately, “the man” has failed a time or two in the past when attempting to get everyone on board with his agenda although not for his lack of trying. We currently continue to have the option of reading books, magazines, and newspapers without the aid of technology. However, I’m positive offering periodicals on-line and books via the Kindle was intended to replace all paper copies of those types of literature. Thank goodness that hasn’t happened (at least not yet). I reckon there is still enough of us on this earth, who prefer perusing a genuine newspaper on Sunday mornings, to halt any inclination publishers may have for offering on-line editions only. The day I lose that choice is the day I become an ignoramus because I refuse to read a book or a newspaper on a computer screen.

I thought compact discs were finally safe from extinction, but now I’m not so sure. I recently discovered, while vacationing in North Carolina with my family, that cd players are no longer prevalent in some of the newer vehicles. Our rented Chrysler 200 came equipped with extensive “bells and whistles,” almost to the point of being too confusing to drive, yet the mid-size car was void of a compact disc player. I can understand omitting the cassette tape player, as a standard feature in newer models, because that format of recorded music is no longer even produced. I can also understand why a manufacturer might provide a way to attach an iPod to the vehicle’s speakers since many people are entrenched in that sort of technology. What I can’t comprehend though is why the cd player is apparently being phased out when approximately 50% of the population continues to fancy purchasing CDs instead of downloading music off of the internet.

I figured the people had already spoken, in regards to preserving compact discs, and I no longer needed to worry, but I guess the verdict is still out. I have well over a thousand CDs in my collection, but my only alternative in North Carolina was listening to a lame radio station while cruising in the rented Chrysler. I experienced another unwanted encounter with advanced technology, during my outing in the Tar Heel State, and once again (as expected) I was not a fan. My family and I went out for an ordinary dinner, but the restaurant’s ordering process was anything but ordinary. We entered the establishment expecting the simplicity of good food and good conversation, but instead we were instantly forced to kowtow to a newly acquired piece of state-of-the-art-technology. We were informed the iPad setting on our table was actually our menu. The waitress explained how convenient the contraption was, for all concerned, but of course to my chagrin.

My anxiety level immediately rose like a launched rocket ship. The young lady tried teaching us (mostly me) how to use the gadget, but I probably would’ve been better off trying to learn Chinese. I did discover that successfully swiping a computer screen with my finger, navigating through numerous food items and over 150 beer options, was extremely difficult, confusing, and tiresome. The waitress’ proclaimed convenience, for using the iPad, was in actuality our inconvenience in disguise. If it weren’t for my tech-savvy son, sitting at our table, we might’ve died from starvation before the evening was through. I don’t think dining out should be that complicated; therefore, I can’t imagine ever going back there in spite of how tasty the food and beer might have been.

Once in a while we’re seemingly given a choice, but when a negative consequence accompanies one of the options, but not the other, is it then really a choice? For instance, some grocery stores now offer their customers additional savings if they download the week’s digital coupons onto their shoppers’ card. We all have a similar card, yet only those who go on-line before shopping gets the luxury of receiving more for their money. Not everyone has a smartphone, and not everyone owns a computer: whether due to modest finances or simply by choice. Regardless, penalizing people based solely on them not embracing technology seems unfair. I think it’s blatant discrimination.

Unfortunately, Starbucks has recently expanded their love of advanced technology as well by offering a new promotion deemed “Mobile order and pay.” Also a bit unfair. They are literally encouraging customers to “skip the line” by doing everything on their electronic devices. At Starbucks it’s no longer first-come, first-served…it’s first-texted, first-served. It pains me to know my favorite place to write is part of the problem although I’m not willing to sacrifice my grande, dark roast coffee (with free refill) for the sake of fairness. I’m a very weak man when it comes to my Starbucks fix.

I had my first inkling, approximately a dozen years ago, as to where our nation was most-likely headed concerning its admiration for advanced technology. My lovely wife and I were dining out one evening when I noticed a gentleman romancing his cellphone instead of his female companion. I vividly remember how engrossed the man was with his tiny object and how defeated the ignored woman, seated across from him, looked. I pointed out the awkward situation to my wife, and we both agreed it was truly a sad sight to behold. The clueless man continuously ogled and caressed his electronic date for the duration of their stay. Now, the previous scenario has become the rule, not the exception, in today’s society. Spying an assortment of electronics on nearly every table in a restaurant is commonplace nowadays. I assume if people are willing to forgo conversations with their loved ones, while out for dinner, then it’s fairly conceivable they’re probably not sufficiently interacting with one another at home either.

I’m troubled that droves of people have become so attached to their electronic devices even to the point of idolatry. I’m also concerned about what other types of technological discrimination is waiting for us just around the corner. Here’s where I’m suppose to say, “To each his own.” I’m not lobbying to thwart the advancement of technology, but I am adamantly opposed to being forced into a lifestyle I believe is detrimental to relationships. Just because it’s the norm that doesn’t make it right. I presume some of you are guilty of rolling your eyes, at some point while reading this, and mistakenly referring to me as a dinosaur or else making some sort of horse-and-buggy wisecrack. If so, I’m left wondering why. I assuredly have no desire to make the horse-and-buggy my main mode of transportation, but I hold no animosity towards anyone who does. I’m not anti-technology…I’m just pro-choice!


Contentment

It’s quite interesting, as well as refreshing, how the Holy Spirit intervenes seemingly under even the most trivial of circumstances. I was having a little trouble deciding what to write about when I remembered Christ is interested in every aspect of my life. Once in a while I find myself becoming a bit too complacent, when walking with the Lord, that I sometimes forget He has all of the answers. I made a simple plea for some clarification, during my evening prayers, as to what topic I should be entertaining. The very next morning, while continuing a Bible study I had started in January, I came across 1st Timothy 6:6-8.

The Apostle Paul said, “But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.” Previously, I had considered offering my thoughts on contentment; however, I had just come up with a clever title pertaining to a different subject altogether, so I figured that ship had already sailed. Obviously, I was wrong. Immediately after reading those verses I no longer had any doubt as to what I was suppose to be writing about at this time. I cannot (and will not) dismiss the Holy Spirit’s intervention as merely a coincidence.

Google defines contentment as “a state of happiness and satisfaction.” I prefer Wikipedia’s definition which states, “Contentment is a mental or emotional state of satisfaction drawn from being at ease in one’s situation, body and mind.” How many people do we know who have the aforementioned abundant supply of food and clothing, as well as many other things, yet they are still discontented? It’s fairly difficult though to rebuke those who are not content since our country actually promotes this type of behavior. We are encouraged to buy into the notion that we must constantly strive to advance in our careers, upgrade to larger homes and more expensive vehicles, and be the first in line when the newest technological device hits the shelves.

What it really boils down to, in today’s society, is we have a misguided admiration of the almighty dollar. The noticeable differences between the haves and have-nots are what tends to divide us as a nation. We are erroneously separated into categories based on our financial status; however, the Bible warns us (again in 1st Timothy) that “the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.” I’m not contending there’s anything wrong with ambition, and I’m certainly not implying there aren’t any fulfilled have-nots living amongst us. In fact, I would venture to say there are probably more individuals with much less money, than those with beaucoup bucks, who are content with their lives. The problem with making accumulating wealth a priority, and striving to obtain more possessions, is that inevitably it becomes a vicious cycle, so there’s rarely a chance of achieving any sort of lasting satisfaction. How much would be enough?

Not so long ago my father was asked what was on his “bucket list.” After pondering the question, for a quick moment, he unexpectedly replied, “Nothing.” My father was born of modest means, did not attend college, and was the sole breadwinner for his family of six. Looking in from the outside it appears as though he hasn’t had too much excitement in his life. He’s rarely traveled, has never been on a cruise, had never purchased a new vehicle until recently, and my father doesn’t even own a computer, yet he is content. He explained how important raising a family had been to him, how he couldn’t think of anything he desired to do (even if money was no object), and how even if he could he still wouldn’t change a thing.

I consider myself content as well although I have many things on my bucket list. I’d like to travel more especially outside of the United States. I also wish to one day partake in bungee jumping, go whitewater rafting, and possibly run a half marathon. Attempting to run a full marathon (26.2 miles) would just be silly. I’ve already tried my hand at waterskiing, snorkeling, and parasailing – and I really don’t even know how to swim. I went skydiving several years ago as well. Some folks think it’s ridiculous to jump out of a perfectly good airplane, but I highly recommend the exhilarating feat.

For me, skydiving on November 26th, 2001, was somewhat of a religious awakening. I would think it’s nearly impossible to fall from the heavens, at 13,000 feet, without considering one’s mortality. I even pondered what could possibly go awry before boarding the compact aircraft; hence, the reason why I quickly penned a short letter to my lovely wife before takeoff. I reminded the missus how much she and our son meant to me, and I apologized for the times, during our then 18 years together, when I wasn’t the perfect mate she deserved. I reckon I was yearning for complete contentment “just in case.” I asked my bride not to read the note unless something went amiss up in the blue sky. Of course, anyone who knows my wife most-likely has already guessed she read my heartfelt words before I even got on the plane.

On this earth we are “a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:14). We are here experiencing the lower story (life’s fleeting moment) although the upper story (God’s divine plan) is the only thing that truly matters in the end. Ultimate contentment is surrendering all things to Christ. It is realizing your soul is your greatest asset. Assuredly, I am not against earning a good living, climbing up the company ladder, or having a bucket list as long as those desires are secondary. It’s not important that I once went skydiving, and I’m not too concerned whether or not I’ll have the opportunity to someday experience any of the other adventurous activities on my bucket list. Regardless, I’m content.