Technological advances or deterioration of society?

I worry sometimes that our so called technological advances are actually setting us back, taking us away from the things that really matter and make us happy! I counsel with children and adolescents who tell me about their favorite video games. I feel so sorry for them that they don't know what it feels like to play hide and seek in the dark, or Red Rover in the vacant lot down the street, or ride horses through the river, or catch big toads from the ponds, or build a raft to float the river, catch crawdads and cook them up for lunch, even play spin the bottle in the back of the horse barn. These are the memories of my childhood. My parents would drop us off at the horse barn early in the morning and pick us up after dark. We were able to use our imagination to create fun. We also were 100% responsible for the care of our ponies and horses. Our parents never asked if we had fed them or cleaned their stalls or spent hours watching over our shoulders or ordering us to "practice" but just let us figure it all out on our own. Our animals depended on us and we delivered. I see the moms today at the horse barn directing everything and doing much of the work their kids should be doing. I have the rare opportunity of riding my horse with a near 80 year old local rancher. What a great lifestyle he has. He runs several hundred cows and can ride his horse 8 hours in a day, getting on and off to open gates and fences and ride his trusted steed through the mountains rain, sleet or snow. I think he is more fit than I am. There are several of these guys who have a community where they all help each other move the cows, vaccinate, worm, weigh and sell. They shoot the breeze and stop to trade jokes or visit about their families or the price of beef. They are outside from morning till night and they don't quit till the work is done. They smile a lot and seem to love their life. They are a dying breed. They are the grandfathers and I wonder how many of their grandchildren will take over the business they spent a lifetime to build. Much of the land is being sold off by the next generation for building housing tracts and I feel sad about that. What will become of us when all of our farmers and ranchers die off and we have to import everything we eat? I love my time riding with my rancher friend. He is so kind and so relaxed. If I miss a cow or they run the wrong direction he says "no worries, the cows we miss today we will get tomorrow!" My body relaxes and my mind clears and I feel such satisfaction riding down the road on my horse, moving cows and chatting it up with the other ranchers who come to check and make sure they are there to help if needed. So different from the isolation most people experience in their work. I think we are missing the boat if we think technology will save us or make our lives better when at the same time it seems to rob us of real life. Riding down the road on my horse with the Bulls frolicking in front of me, the sun shining at my back I think I am the luckiest girl in the world. A quote from Peter Senge in my new favorite book "Presence: Human Purpose and the Field of the Future" says "All our contemporary cultures have played a part in the journey of separation, and we must all be part of the reversal. As this happens, we may reconnect powerfully with one another also." Let's find ways to reconnect, to each other, to nature, to joy!

Beth HaggettComment