Thursday, July 14, 2011


In a world where words and phrases like "melting pot" and assimilation have given way to words like "multi-culturalism" and "plural relativism", it is no surprise that the last bastion of individualism is being removed from this "everyone should be the same" society.  I can remember growing up in the fifties and sixties youngsters were being encouraged to "find themselves", express their own "individuality".  Today, societal pressures have a tendency to want everyone to be lumped together with everyone else.  Students are being taught that it's not necessary to try and excel.  Quite the opposite actually.  In academia and even in school organized sports children are being taught that just showing up for an activity makes you the winner, as in today's mind, there are no longer any losers. 
  Back in the day, before typewriters legible printing and writing were necessary.  Companies and individuals corresponded and kept records through the art of handwriting.  People were dependent upon their ability to communicate through handwriting.  Not everyone had the blessing of good "penmanship" however.  Penmanship was the true art.  It is what set one person apart from the others.  I mean if you were capable of penmanship that literally anyone could read, you were lauded.  Unfortunately with time, handwriting either printing or cursive gave way to speedier techniques of written communication.  A technique referred to as "Shorthand" was invented.  Shorthand was also an art, but once learned and mastered, the art of taking "dictation" was much more efficient and time saving in the office.  Today, words like dictation and Shorthand are seldom heard, and as far as I know never taught.  The advent of "Dictaphones" (hmmm, there was an invention) came on the scene making Shorthand a lost art.  In this modern age, we have texting on mobile telephones that has made one on one audible communication a thing of the past.  No more need for conversation, looking someone in the eye, face to face intercourse.  It's gone, it's all gone.  Why, these days employees are even being fired by email.  In my mind, a pathetic, cowardly thing to do. 
  Remember when a letter was fun to get, not necessarily fun to write but certainly a pleasure to read.  Letters usually came from far away places, from a soldier at war in a foreign land, a loved one who was home missing her boyfriend or husband.  The smell of her perfume (meant only for your senses) that quietly escaped when you opened the envelope, that contained news from from home and secret "I love yous".  Letters from mom and dad, friends who for a brief moment took time to write and let one know that they were in their thoughts.  The best thing about the letters, is you could tell by the "handwriting" who wrote the letter, you could recognize their style of penmanship.  Letters were not just words on paper, they were thoughts and feelings, dreams and disappointments, shared hopes, shared fears and shared love, conveyed from one another the only way an individuals special handwriting could convey.  Remember the fanciful "S's" and elaborate "A's", and best of all, the signature at the end.  Ahhh, that signature, it was the one unique and personal thing about handwriting, it turned a plain old name into a real tangible individual, identification mark.  Recognizable to the recipient of the letter.  
  Every one's signature carries with it a one of a kind flair.  It can be simple, or flamboyant, but it was one of a kind.  
  It grieves me to see that school systems in Indiana and Illinois will no longer be teaching mandatory cursive handwriting.  Without handwriting the individual person, then personality of the sender will be lost forever.  There has been only one thing that a reasonably educated human being has to their own individuality, and that was their own unique signature.  The pluralism and relativism of this modern progressive society is now stripping away one more of those identifiable individual traits that is the essence of personality.  Will our youngsters be taught that is no need for individualism, no flair, no flamboyance and no need to be unique.  I'm afraid that is what the long term ramifications of no-longer teaching cursive writing will be.  A sad, very sad day it is, when your child or grandchild signs your text message with a number not a name.
  So there you have it, the beginning of the end of individualism.  No more closeness felt through a handwritten letter.  The only thing our grandchildren will know are the cold block letters that show up on a telephone or computer screen. 
This has been a melancholy message from,
The Watchman    

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