Literacy Is Power

My nephew recently starred in one of Abigail's posts as the charming space-cadet that he is; now it's time for my niece to come into the spotlight as an example of an old truth renewed.  My niece is now six years old - six and a half - and is due to wrap up her first year in school.  She is extremely precocious and started schooling a year early: it's hard to believe that the cute twig of a girl capering around as a horse is going into second grade soon.  But the other day I had the satisfaction of seeing her step out of the car at the grocery store toting a copy of one of the Boxcar Children books, intent on reading it in the lulls between shopping just as I do (though, naturally, I've long since graduated from Boxcar Children status).  She has read nearly every Boxcar Children book out there (sometimes reading as many as four a day), she chews through Marguerite Henry's famous horse novels, and devours this and that odd book that she can get her hands on.  On occasion I catch her peering at condiments labels, bravely pronouncing "Heinz," which is more than I can do.  The girl can read.  Her handwriting is a little wobbly, and sometimes the letters get out of place; her math is yet elementary; but she can read.  Gone are the days when we can discuss her birthday presents by spelling at each other over her head.  The girl holds a skill whose power she does not yet comprehend.  She has grasped a key to the world, but I look into those big soulful blue eyes and see that she does not yet know what lies at her fingertips.

I know I am preaching to the choir on this.  I think everyone who reads this blog is an avid reader with a varied, edifying list of books to read and that have been read.  But I look back on history and the dark eras in which learning, writing, reading, and communication were at their lowest ebb or even prohibited, how coarse and backward life was then, and how men's minds were so easily overrun and oppressed.  Juxtaposed to that, I see the resurgences of education, thought, writing, and an accurate understanding and fear of God, and men's shackles break.  It has been a long, long time since we were told by authorities what to read and what to think, a long time since we broke free of such oppression.  But the truth of the matter is that such oppression is not gone out of the world, nor even our own country.  I hope to be the last to advocate an ornery or offensive attitude as regards learning, but don't take the freedom that you have lightly: you have a mind that you are able to use with reference to your own conscience and the power to glean wisdom from the written accounts of our ancestors and our contemporaries.  Don't take this lightly.  Many years and much blood was shed to put this power into the hands of people such as ourselves.  Appreciate this power and use it wisely.

When you come bring the cloak which I left at Troas with Carpus, and the books, especially the parchments.
2 Timothy 4:13

3 ripostes:

  1. This is so true, Jenny! Thank you for this post so much.

  2. P.S. I love that picture :)

  3. The quote at the end is so appropriate to this post. Paul was writing his last letter to a "son" he very much hoped to see one more time before he died - and he wanted to make sure Timothy brought him his books! I laugh, but I also sympathize. Great post, Jenny!