Here in late-mid July I am at my desk, with the windows in the room flung open. I am shivering, and wearing two layers, but I refuse to close these windows because it is raining and lovely, and because two days ago it was 98 degrees farenheit and at least as humid. For three days that was the weather we had, and it rendered me motionless. How many times have I visited a hot, humid climate (e.g., in my experience–islands like Puerto Rico, Antigua, Margarita, as well as countries such as Costa Rica, Mexico, Morocco) and reveled in that weather — beachside, poolside, barside — inattentive to the resident population, whose life this ennervating weather is?
Which brings me to the question–who among us, anywhere in the world, of any social or economic stratum, has enough information about anywhere else in the world, to make an informed judgment? An opinion, I think, can be made with less than full information, but never concreted into a judgment until “walking in their shoes”. And I fear we are very, very quickly expressing judgments these days because we are so inundated with information, subjective information. (I think we probably often make judgments, aka, first impressions, fast, but used to express them a bit more slowly as we had to work more to find means.) May I realize my ignorance and willingly research, study, learn before I opine and, by technologically enhanced capability, judge.
I am thinking, access to a “mouthpiece” is so available, and use of said mouthpieces so second-nature, that perhaps we do not even remember that words of judgment spoken via fingertips to keys are in fact often broadly cast, whether by ourselves or by share-happy recipients. In fact, I find myself flinching at the word share. It is losing any modicum it may still have held of relationship to the idea of generosity.
And, speaking of words losing aspects of themselves, I slide over to another, and I think related topic, loss of words, themselves. A book written a couple of years ago by Robert McFarlane and illustrated by Jackie Moss talks about words that have been removed from the Oxford Junior Dictionary. Robert McFarlane has written numerous books about usually difficult-to-access places; written about these places to note, share, and preserve at least in words, their singleness, their beauty, their very presence. Until his latest book, published this year, they were about places on the surface, at all different topographies, often quite high and treacherous. His book, out this year is Underland and is about just that-deep places, caves, tunnels. Always at work in his writing is the value, the generosity of these places, and always understood in reading them and being alive in this day and age, is the usually human threat to their health, even presence. His book about words, called The Lost Words, notes the loss of:
many words that denote/describe things of nature–some of them relatively common words, still, and relatively common things, such as: acorn; bluebell; ivy; fern; dandelion.
As we shrink our personal contact with what is outside of ourselves, and rely more and more on immediate (both locationally and time-based) electronic transmission, will munificence be lost? Oh, I pray not.