Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Too Many Donkeys!

Fate has decreed that all lazy boys who come to hate books and schools and teachers and spend all their days with toys and games must sooner or later turn into donkeys.

~ The Adventures of Pinocchio, C. Collodi


I try to avoid certain things in the world, like watching the news and reading the paper - two things I try never, ever to do. I prefer to live in a bubble of denial, which is probably why I'm a writer. But when I sometimes end up in the room with my news-watching husband or accidentally glance at the paper, I think of this quote. Yes, I'm really that weird and nerdy. Sad, I know.

Why on earth would I think of that quote? Well, because there are so many donkeys in the world today, of course!! Where else would they have come from?

Why do so many of my students insist that they HATE to read, announce proudly that they have never read a book all the way through, and dare me to find one they like, fully convinced that it's an impossibility? Is it a coincidence that there are fewer readers and fewer people with basic skills in social etiquette in the world today? I don't think so. What happened to the days when people loved to read and when most people treated others with decency and common courtesy?

Can I prove a link between reading and common decency? Um...no. Am I convinced there is a link? Absolutely! I miss NICE people, patient people who understood if you were struggling with a crying infant or needing to get into the other lane of traffic. Instead, too many are turning into donkeys!! The world needs more readers, people!

So... are you on board with my theory, or have I finally gone round the bend? You can be honest. It's okay, I can take it. Just break it to me gently.

P.S. Of course there are nice non-readers and not-nice people who love to read. The world is built on multiplicity and exceptions. :-)

33 comments:

Vicki Rocho said...

I avoid the news too. It's so full of doom and gloom that I turn a blind eye/ear...but then I wonder why I don't recognize names/faces of movie stars, politicians, world leaders?

I'm doing myself a disservice, I know...but inevitably every time I DO read the paper or watch the news I learn something that totally pisses me off...so I boycott again.

Christi Goddard said...

I don't watch the news. I don't even have cable. My TV is only on when there's a DVD in the player. The only time I get any news is on accident when I'm logging in to MSN to check my mail.

There's a lot of reason for donkeys these days. The most prevelent is apathy and instant gratification. People no longer have the patience and time they once did. This is a myth. The number of hours in a day did not change, only what people wish to do with them.

Theresa Milstein said...

I'm a Social Studies teacher, so I'm aware that an informed citizenry is the only way to democracy.

As far as reading, in fifth-grade it was mandatory, and most children did quite a bit of reading. And during Social Studies, I spent time explaining how important it was to participate in politics as a citizen.

salarsenッ said...

You haven't gone around the bend, Shannon. I believe there is way too much stimuli in today's world. Me-ism has grown by leaps and bounds. I remember the day when I went to the little store on the corner and if the owner saw us kids doing anything inappropriate he'd call us on it. Today, no one dares...or cares. Which is it, really?

I rarely watch the news, either. Once in a while, I'll pick up the paper but usually it's to comb through and see if there are any interesting character names hidden among the goop.

Kelly said...

I do watch the news. I like to watch the weather which my hubby reminds me I could just find on the internet. But I like to watch the local weather on tv!
I think our depressing economy is a blessing in disguise. People were too greedy, buying way too much. Kids had way too much way too soon.
But I am ready for the economy to be on the upswing soon. But I'll use the lessons learned in saving and appreciation and hope others do too.

Candyland said...

I'm right there with you, Shan. I hate the news. I much prefer denial and butterflies and sunshine, lol.

Kenda said...

I wonder about how society in general is becoming disconnected. Not as much face time with one another--everyone with their own music piped into their ears walking down the street, little eye contact; texting abbreviated sentences instead of talking; facing a computer screen instead of getting together. How are we helping our kids care about one another?

But then we hear lots of stories about how kids are reaching out, helping others, serving, so maybe I exaggerate. There's still hope, right?

Rayna M. Iyer said...

You couldn't have put it better.
We need nicer people. People who do not give up when confronted with a difficult word, people who are willing to assimilate a different thought.
What the world doesn't need are self satisfied smirks brought up without words and thoughts.

BUT, kids are still reading, and there are youth who inspire. I see a happy future, if we give ourselves a chance

Erica Mitchell-Spickard said...

I avoid the news everyday and have for years, I get the tidbits I need to be just enough in the know from my parents. While my husband is at war I can't watch how the media so often distorts what they do and not only that occasionally they get the information on disasters before the military can notify families so I avoid all news for that reason. That and it's depressing.
The book thing, I can relate to actually and it was because the mandatory reading I had growing up was ICK and started to dislike reading, hate is a strong word I was busy doing other things and for a time, didn't read. So I do understand SOME of it, not all of it...where I live it seems that there is a lot of patience in my community and plenty of helping hands. But once I get out of the city and go somewhere else I see it and it makes me so sad. So no you haven't gone 'round the bend, the world is less patient in so many ways and for so many reasons.

Leah (aka Mary_not_Martha) said...

Yes, too many donkeys. Now the next rude customer I get in my line will have me imagining them with huge furry ears and a tail!

I like to read the news, but not watch it, that I way I can skip over anything depressing. I get a sick feeling when I'm at my sisters and the news is on for hours in the morning - I can't take it! It's like rain on my party!

Courtney Barr - The Southern Princess said...

Oh Pinnochio - that movie used to scare the begeezus out of me! Seriously...maybe its WHY I read - no donkey ears wanted here!

I think that sometimes as adults we read not only for pleasure but for assurance. Assurance that childhood fantasy, imagination, love of things magical is not lost.

When we are a child we tend to think that reading is for adults, that in a book we will be forced to learn boring facts and things that we really don't care about. It is when you discover that one book, the one that changes everything, that you find a piece of yourself you never knew was missing. Children already have such imaginations that allow a freedom and that the binding of a book appears to be a cage - your students are lucky to have a teacher who can show them the pages are not cages, they are doors..wide open and ready to be rid of donkey ears...

great quote Shannon!

Visit My Kingdom Anytime

Jennie Englund said...

On board. Totally, completely on board.

Jen said...

I'm not a big news junkie, it's funny that you wrote this today though because I watched the news this morning, only to check on Hurricane coverage.

I think you have a great theory here and I'm on board just like Jennie. I think nice people have fallen to the way side and it's not doing us any good, only making it that much harder!

Valerie Geary said...

Hmmm... not sure if I agree. I know plenty of jerks who read and plenty of nice people who don't.

I do however definitely think the world needs more readers... if only so there is less ignorance and stupidity. Which... might... eventually lead to niceness... but... then again... probably not.

People will go on being mean and cruel and insufferably rude forever and ever. It's in our nature. We're a selfish, power-hunger species. It's just the way it is... whether we like it or not. And I suppose I read and write because of that. To try and understand the darker parts of our natures. To try and overcome it.

So... how do you like that for a dissertation!!! :D

laurel said...

I do agree that reading requires one to develop patience. It also it requires active mental engagement instead of passivity-- the kind of passivity that breeds entitlement. (You know, that sense that "I deserve to not work at all to learn anything.")

Whether there's a cause-effect relationship between reading and civility would be hard to prove. I know plenty of huge jerks with PhDs who read thousands of pages a week.

Oh, and I get my news largely from NPR. I used to hide from the news too, but felt very convicted by the Good Samartain story to not avert my glance from pain and difficulty, but to be aware of it and seek ways to help where possible.

Bossy Betty said...

OK, I'm a reader and a nice person too. I raised two boys--one is a reader and one isn't. Both are lovely human beings. Believe me--I would love for both sons to be readers and you had better believe I pushed the books on them as they were growing up. However, at some point I had to start harping on the non-reader and just accept him as he is. And he is a very creative, nice and decent person.

Mary Aalgaard said...

My young sons were in the room while the news was on the TV. They said, "Why is it all bad news?" You can get depressed, disheartened, and pessimistic from too much bad news. I mostly get my updates from the 3 min. radio news at the top of the hour. Also, when I'm out and about and I'm out of sorts, I tell myself to look for acts of kindness.

Susan Kaye Quinn said...

Less reading, more donkeys? I'm on board with that. There is a reason why our founding fathers considered education to be a key to an enduring democracy, and why they believed in public libraries (even if it took some time to establish). An educated public is a responsible, genteel public.

Tere Kirkland said...

Oh, Shannon, the donkeys frustrate me, too. Where did they all come from? I think you're onto something with your theory.

At least you're part of the solutin, even if it doesn't always feel so rewarding at the time. ;)

(hugs)

Tere

Tere Kirkland said...

Solution. Yeah. That's the one.

Kristi said...

Yay, a fellow news-avoider!!! It's so darn depressing!

And I'm totally on board with your theory!

I think there's a certain creative/imaginative side of us that comes alive with reading. Nothing like it...I am, of course, biased. :-)

Shannon Whitney Messenger said...

I definitely think there's a link--and you're right, the world is full of donkeys. I love how most of the time people can't even hesitate the extra half a second it takes to reach back and keep the door open, so it doesn't slam me in the face. *sigh* :)

Angela Ackerman said...

The news can be hard to take, because there is always so much more harm than good. Fear and strife sells, I think, so it always gets top billing.

RE: kids reading

I agree, this is sad and frustrating, but I do take up the challenge, and it's why I write Kidlit. I want to turn some of those haters on reading into lovers of books!

Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

Kari said...

On board, all the way!! I think so many kids today would benefit if they had to read more--patience, concentration, imaginations, and ability to relate to other people are all helped by reading. Not to mention vocabulary, writing skills, reading comprehension, etc....

Roxane B. Salonen said...

Shannon, I gave up TV several years ago and just don't miss it! There are so many other ways to mingle with the worth that it started seeming like a true waste of time. My husband, like yours, keeps up with the news, and a few sports. And every once in a while I watch it with him, but that's pretty much it. And I would agree wholeheartedly with your theory. I think the proof is in what we are observing on a daily basis, and because we lived in a world that wasn't filled with quite so many donkeys, we're probably a bit more cognizant of this than younger generations. That's not to say each generation doesn't come with its own wisdom. But... (one gets defensive when talking on this topic, I can see :)) All this to say, I'm with you girl, and having a great reading kind of summer. And I love that my girls are joining me. I honestly don't know that I'll ever convince my oldest son. If he's to become a reader, it won't be by any of my suggestions, that's for sure.

DL Hammons said...

Absolutely...MORE READERS!!!!

And they need to read mysteries! :)

Jemi Fraser said...

We definitely need more readers! I was at a workshop once upon a time and we were told that the US government uses the grade 3 reading scores to determine how many jail cells they will need 10 years in the future. I have no idea whether or not this is really true, but it supports your theory!

Alexia561 said...

Great discussion! I'm totally on board with you, as I've never gotten over how some people brag that they've never read a book. Excuse me? You're bragging that you're a moron??? Bunch of donkeys! *L*

Patti Lacy said...

I LOVE to read the newspaper but NEVER watch the news on TV.

Will cast my vote with you.

Aren't you irish???? LOL

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Shannon -

I believe there is a connection between reading and civility.

Parents, who love God's Word, read it, model it, and teach it to their children instill that love in them.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Heather Sunseri said...

Very funny, Shannon! I like to think reading relaxes people. Makes them less anxious, and therefore patient and calm to be around.

Heather said...

I think everyone should read, no matter what the book. It keeps the mind exercising and expanding. Without books and stories we become ignorant.

AchingHope said...

I totally agree with you! And I'm pretty sure they have done studies on that. If not they should.

It makes me sad, when people tell me they dislike reading :(

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