Sunday, September 22, 2013

Knowing The "Magic Word"


I was in Walmart the other day and nearly got plowed under by a toddler flying out of the toy aisle into the main aisle with a set of those alphabet letters that we all played with as a kid.  The package was almost as big as the kid as he kept tentative hold on it and was no doubt seeking out his mom for a face to face "buy this for me" session.

Well, I didn't think much about that until driving home, and then my mind started ranging over open meadows and mental leaps over thought clouds while leaping over sidewalk cracks.  For some reason those alphabet blocks popped into my mind, and, as I often do, I transmigrate from that simplicity to deeper, more complex thoughts about our wonderful alphabet and the magic we can create with it.

Because really, when you think about it, our alphabet is a treasury of tools that allows us to express ourselves; what we think and feel, what we hate and what and who we love, what ails us and what brings us joy.  We gather up a conglomeration of letters to form the words that allow us to convey what we feel from within.  

And the more we are exposed to the millions of combinations of letters, the words we build from such simple structures the greater our chances of achieving the peace and contentment we feel when we can communicate those thoughts and feelings to another human being.  Being able to express ourselves well is a form of release, a lessening of tension when communication is blocked...for any number of reasons.

Not surprisingly, each of us own varying degrees of talents in the deployment of those letters and words.  The more we read, the more we are exposed to the wild soup bowl of letters and words available to us the greater magic we can conjure up.  We can use those words to elicit emotions in others, pity or praise and admiration.  The most talented of these "wordsmiths" take us to whole new worlds, to alien landscapes that occupy us thoroughly.  Sometimes, when inspired by a touch of the divine, these wordsmiths challenge our beliefs, shake us from foundations of certainties, inspire us to achieve greatness.  Some do all of that with such beauty they are given Pulitzers and Nobel prizes.

Conversely, try to imagine the level of frustration that lives within those of us who have never been properly exposed to these marvelous word treasuries; folks that are illiterate, who can neither read or write.  No doubt, years of frustration, at not being able to convey thoughts and feelings, at not being able to receive and understand those same thoughts and feelings from others surely breeds a corruption of the hearts and minds of those afflicted.  I had only pity for the young Black woman in the George Zimmerman trial, the one who could not read cursive.  No doubt the hate that spewed from her lips was  something that simmered for years from within.  That hate erupted in small boil overs, with such utterings as "white ass crackers"...and made tragic by her failure to even understand that the words might prove to be racially offensive to a White person.

They say that half of our high school graduates are functionally illiterate, incapable of reading or writing at a fairly basic 12th grade skill level.  Such poverty in our young; poverty so pronounced that they now live in a texting world of fractional words and phrases which convey nothing more than the meaningless digital version of a smoke signal.  

Illiteracy of reading and writing robs our young of the ability to live in a magic world where the exploration of other worlds is infinite, where anything is possible.  It deprives them from admission to all the magic that exists in this world alone.

I hope Mommy bought the kid those Alphabet blocks...god knows he'll need them.


Ken said...

I haven't been able to get here in awhile, sadly. This was a great essay on still another sad hole in a once great America. Very sad, actually.

I hope all is well in beautiful Arizona! BTW, you spell God with a lower case "g" now, mistake or just going over to the dark side??

Jerry Carlin said...

What a Nice essay! Reminds me that I should go back and read all of your previous postings!

A Modest Scribler said...

Thanks, Jerry.