Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Ancient Paths

Just in case you don't scrupulously examine every square inch of my blog each and every day (where is your devotion, people?!?), I'd like to point out that I've added a scripture verse along the side. Here it is:

Thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls." Jeremiah 6:16

I love this verse! So often in our modern world we discard the old in place of the new, flashy, improved ideas/products/methods. But is that really a good idea? Time-tested ideas are generally right. But in the natural human quest to "improve the wheel," have we lost much of the wisdom of our ancestors? Here are just a few areas that I can think of:

1) Teen years - Do you realize that the expectation of teen age rebellion is a relatively new concept? In ancient cultures (and even in some still today), this was unheard of. Even the very phrase "teenager" is a new idea, in the grand scale. The idea has only been around since the 1940's. Before, you moved from childhood to adulthood around the age of 14-15 years old. Throughout history, young people have made an impact on our world. Just a few examples:

  • Joan of Arc (16 at the time of freeing the French from English invaders)
  • David Farragut (given command of a ship at age 12 during the War of 1812, later the senior officer of the Navy during the Civil War)
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (wrote his first work at 5 and by the time he was 18 had written more than a dozen major works)
  • King Tut (Pharaoh of Egypt who died at the age of 18)
  • John Quincy Adams (14 at the time of being sent to Russia as an ambassador)
  • Vladimir Bukovsky (a teenager whose activities on behalf of the human rights movement in the Soviet Union landed him in prison)

History is full of young people who have ruled nations, fought for civil rights, created masterpieces. And yet today, we hold no higher expectations for most of our teenagers than to stay out of trouble. I believe that people rise to the expectation to which they are held. When we expect our children to be mature, respectful and responsible, we have a great possibility of reaching that goal.

2) Education - Public education has only been around in its current form since the mid-1830's. Now before you jump all over me and talk about the hardships in the life of a child before public education (no child labor laws, etc), let me clarify that I am not stating that we should go back to that. However, the vast majority of children were educated at home throughout history until about 175 years ago. It's funny to me when people think of homeschooling as something new, when, in all actuality, it's "school" that is new! While I understand that homeschooling is not an option for everyone, I do think it provides opportunities that schooling does not. I realize that there are some things that my children might miss out on not being in school - prom, graduation ceremonies, big science labs, team sports, etc. But these days, a good support group can provide all of this. But they are also missing a lot of the negatives.

In fact, a friend constantly tells me my kids aren't exposed to real life. I recently read something that made sense to me. It's really kids in school who are being kept away from real life. They are being closed up in a building with mainly children their own age and, usually, their own socio-economic class. Home schooled kids are the ones who are out in real life. They are the ones who are involved on a daily basis with the day to day stuff that makes up life. They talk to people of all different ages and status levels as they join their parents going about their day. They have the freedom to study what they are interested in. They have the time to run and play and explore their world. So many of the kids I see today are over-scheduled - school all day, extracurricular activities in the afternoon, homework at night and then bed. When can they have enough time to just develop on their own? To lay in the sunshine and look at clouds and think? To read a good book that touches their soul? I'm not saying these things never happen. But I do believe that for an over-scheduled child, it is harder to make it happen.

Gosh, even all the time-saving and labor-saving devices don't bring us rest. People predicted that with all these modern inventions, we'd have tons of leisure time. Instead we have less.

So, for me, the ancient paths are the ones that lead me in the good way and bring rest to my soul. I'm going to seek them out and follow them.


Anonymous said...

What can I say? I love it.

Josie said...

Great post. It's all so interesting, isn't it? Lovely.

Leeann said...

I hear what you are saying although I have to be honest and say I don't agree with all of it.

But I get the main points and I often think, on a busy day or a day when I feel like I have missed the point of this time on earth, I wish I was Amish or on a nice reclusive farm or something.

Then I realize that within a month I would probably become a corner-rocking, mouth frothing crazy woman with cats.



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