A Daily Cocktail
Dear old and new friends,
Humanity has a long historical tradition of criticizing and denouncing new advances that threaten established customs and practices. New things such as the discovery of the alphabet frightened the famous Socrates, who said, “It will create forgetfulness in the learner’s souls.” That dread of the written word was very real at that time when learning was primarily memorization. New inventions cause alarm and often appear as ugly as did the typewriter, of which Mark Twain said as he gave away his first and only one, “I found that it was degrading my character.”
Seven days before the Wright brothers were the first to fly a powered heavier-than-air ship in 1903, an editorial in the New York Times read, “Time and money spent in airship experiments are wasted!” Countless early detractors of television declared, “No good will come from it.” In our times, Jonathan Franzen, writing in the British Guardian, said that Googling on an iPhone is “handing over your basic memory function to a global corporation system of control.”
Especially the young among us in these early years of the new 21st century have grown accustomed to the ever-newness of our electronic gadgets. Not only have we grown accustomed, we expect each year that their creators outdo themselves in new versions of their products. The new designs in automobiles, architecture and clothing styles are considered common and never threateningly abnormal.
However, in our traditional America newness is a cousin to rebellion. Would not the establishment of a new, easy-to-sing-by-all national anthem, or a fresh new design of our American flag and a major reform of our voting laws so to prevent billionaires and gigantic corporations from influencing congress be rejected by Americans as repulsively revolting? Would not our elective congress be more efficient if those serving were limited to only two terms and if citizens could vote by iPhone or their home computer? Only harebrained radicals would even think of tinkering with what is sacred!
Likewise, in religion newness is heresy! Ridiculous would be any attempt by churches to mandate the use of new versions of the Our Father and Hail Mary prayers that were translated from the original Greek into English. Such a “new” Hail Mary would begin “Hail, favorite one,” instead of, “Hail Mary, full of grace.” A grand canyon of implications exists between “full of grace” and “favorite one.” Or take the typical worship service where each Sunday only the scripture readings, songs and sermon are new or different. Wouldn’t it be seem more feasible for readers, musicians and especially the minister if each Sunday’s worship was a repeat of the previous service?
Politics, religion and our daily lives seem to call for a daily cocktail of something new and something refreshingly old. Different is each person’s taste for the new and their tolerance of the old. Since the seasoned aged is reassuring and comfortable, always keep something old in your daily life. The 125% proof intoxicating brew of the new is required to enliven you and the old, so by trial and error mix your own cocktail.