adventuresofarestlessmind

Archive for July 2012

I shake through the wreckage for signs of life

Scrolling through the paragraphs

Clicking through the photographs

I wish I could make sense of what we do

Burning down the capitals

The wisest of the animals

-Keane, “Perfect Symmetry”

Like anyone following the news coverage of the Colorado tragedy, I feel the need to write something, but I don’t know what is left to say.

These are the horribly ironic and unjust stories that I can’t get out of my mind:

-The young journalist who wrote about how lucky she was to escape a mall shooting in Canada, only to become a victim again.  (She is yet another person I never knew, but feel a connection to because I read her blog post.)

-The military serviceman who survived a tour of duty, only to be killed during an evening of recreation at the movies.

And then there are the injustices of the situation:

-That an innocent mom trying to buy a pack of Sudafed at the drugstore has to put her name on a government watch list (true story), but a criminal can buy four rifles, 6000 rounds of ammunition, bomb-making ingredients, and tear gas without strong enough restrictions.

-That most of us can’t even bring outside food or drinks into a movie theater, but this man slipped by unnoticed with weapons in hand.

I don’t want to politicize this horrific event (even though it may be evidence that we should rethink the outdated Second Amendment, which was created to give MILITIAS the right to bear arms rather than individual people).  That is a discussion for another time.

This is a time when people either split off into one of two groups: those who take the tragedy as a reminder of the fragility of life and see it as something that brings people closer together, or those who take it as yet another sign that humanity is beyond repair.  I believe we can only grow from tragedy by taking the first path.  I may be a little more cautious and aware of my surroundings next time I see a movie, but no one should let any national tragedy stop them from going out and living life.  This means a lot coming from a member of the generation that witnessed 9/11 when we were innocent children.  We must move forward, remember those who were lost, and seek out peace.

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“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.”

“We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?”

–Ray Bradbury

First of all, sorry I haven’t written more yet: I’ve been enjoying the best of summer, and some wonderful new people.

There is a book, A Brief History of The Dead by Kevin Brockmeier, that has essentially shaped how I think about the living and the dead.  I believe that the best way to remember the dead is to remember their vision and what they stood for, and try to see the world as they did.  So I read Fahrenheit 451, for the third time in my life, and it made me want to reread every book I own.

Think about it.  In Ray Bradbury’s time, these technologies and concepts – which we all take for granted today — were nothing more than ideas of the distant future:

-TV screens large enough to cover an entire wall.

-ATM machines.

-“Seashells” that play music into people’s ears, as an escape from everyday life.

-The endless barrage of commercials and advertising.

-Censorship.  In a world where books are banned under the control of one overly offended parent, is it so hard to imagine them burned to ashes?

Sound familiar?

It all sounds much too familiar to me.  Fahrenheit 451 is so affecting today because it provided a haunting vision of the future – not the cheesy science-fiction-special-effects type where robots dominate humankind, but a very real, understated vision of what the world might become.  Reality is not stranger than fiction, it is just more chilling because of its realness.

I’ve always said that I am an old soul, and I sometimes feel like I was born into the wrong century.  Now I feel it more than ever as I prefer solid paper-bound books to online reproductions, and pen and paper to a hollow computer screen.  (Does that make me a hypocrite because I write blog posts now?)

Forgive me if I start sounding preachy, but these are ideas so important to me.  I see the book as a kind of handbook for Finding Some Meaning In Today’s World, and so this is what we need to take away from it.

“We have everything we need to be happy, but we aren’t happy. Something’s missing.”  This is what I fear about my generation: we have instant access to all the technology, art, and music we could ever want, but will that be enough?  What is missing?  It’s something I can’t put a finger on, but its absence is there, and it’s up to our generation to fill that void.  No one can tell us not to think for ourselves, or to stop reading and questioning truths, without our surrender.

I see two paths in life: to either question and actively look for meaning in life, or to ignore the nagging questions and silence yourself with the mundane.  It’s up to us to think critically and clearly see not only what our world is, but what it could be – the worst outcome, but also the best – and how we could change it.