I have had two book experiences in the past week that gave me pause for thought.
I had been reading “The Road to Character” by David Brooks with its very astute observations about the growth and development of young people today. I was musing on his pointing out that so many people have a need to celebrate with the world their every accomplishment by such means as bumper stickers, tee shirts, selfies etc. We have all seen them, haven’t we? Even the celebrities are not immune to a photo with a bigger star. How did we get this way?
But my second book experience was delightful. I was invited by an eight-year-old to join her “Anne of Green Gables” Book Club. She with her mother and grandmother had just read the book together. They offered to bring supper to our apartment and then we could view the video together after an appropriate discussion. What joy!
It was always one of my favorite books, needing to be reread regularly, but to see it anew through the frank eyes of a child was illuminating. I am always struck by the characters of Marilla and Matthew, the unmarried brother and sister who take Anne into their home in what seems almost like another world, although it was the 20th century. They were not demonstrative people and the imaginative, effervescent Anne astounds them, even as the transforming power of love changes all three.
I could not see Matthew with a selfie nor Marilla, outspoken as she could be, singing her own praises. Instead, a bit dour but so just, they show us the gentle working of love on their lives. My young reader friend caught this too. I think Matthew might have been her favorite character.
What has happened to us that those 15 minutes of fame are not enough? Has something gone askew in our national character that we crave headlines and self-promotion? No one wants to be average any longer. Grade inflation on the college level has reached the ridiculous because everyone “deserves” an A. Do they? Since when does B stand for “below acceptable”?
B also stands for “books”, those never-ending sources of reflection and wisdom. Thanks, Mr . Brooks and Ms. Montgomery, for helping me to keep that in mind in this whirling world.