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  • Writer's pictureBill Stauffer

Gratitude Friday 05/12/23 – The Dreamers

Themes have developed here over the weekly gratitude musings. Books are a theme for me. I was thinking about this recently and how in my early life I was inspired by books, which in that era meant physically bound pages, with a smell and a texture where I find comfort. Books are incredible time capsules of knowledge and experience.

While how we read has changed, I still like good old fashioned analogue books. I have consumed books since my earliest memory. I read everything I could get my hands on as a child. Education in this context can be a self-driven process of moving through topics of interest. Learning can lead to awe. The kinds of things I read have changed a lot. In my early youth, I loved science fiction. Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, Frank Herbert, Arthur C Clarke, Mary Shelley, Larry Niven and so many more. They were dreamers. There is a certain optimism in these works that emerge from the struggles and our capacity as humans to forge new paths and cross new horizons. There are also themes of humanity that come through the pages of fiction that ring true. I thought I would share some favorite science fiction writer quotes.

You don't have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” ― Ray Bradbury

I do know that for the sympathy of one living being, I would make peace with all. I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.” ― Mary Shelley

“It was the mark of a barbarian to destroy something one could not understand.” ― Arthur C. Clarke

To doubt everything or to believe everything are two equally convenient solutions; both dispense with the necessity of reflection.” ― Larry Niven

“Why aren't you in school? I see you every day wandering around." "Oh, they don't miss me," she said. "I'm antisocial, they say. I don't mix. It's so strange. I'm very social indeed. It all depends on what you mean by social, doesn't it? Social to me means talking to you about things like this." She rattled some chestnuts that had fallen off the tree in the front yard. "Or talking about how strange the world is. Being with people is nice. But I don't think it's social to get a bunch of people together and then not let them talk, do you? An hour of TV class, an hour of basketball or baseball or running, another hour of transcription history or painting pictures, and more sports, but do you know, we never ask questions, or at least most don't; they just run the answers at you, bing, bing, bing, and us sitting there for four more hours of film-teacher. That's not social to me at all. It's a lot of funnels and lot of water poured down the spout and out the bottom, and them telling us it's wine when it's not. They run us so ragged by the end of the day we can't do anything but go to bed or head for a Fun Park to bully people around, break windowpanes in the Window Smasher place or wreck cars in the Car Wrecker place with the big steel ball. Or go out in the cars and race on the streets, trying to see how close you can get to lampposts, playing 'chicken' and 'knock hubcaps.' I guess I'm everything they say I am, all right. I haven't any friends. That's supposed to prove I'm abnormal. But everyone I know is either shouting or dancing around like wild or beating up one another. Do you notice how people hurt each other nowadays?”Ray Bradbury

“When falsehood can look so like the truth, who can assure themselves of certain happiness?” ― Mary Shelley

“Governments, if they endure, always tend increasingly toward aristocratic forms. No government in history has been known to evade this pattern. And as the aristocracy develops, government tends more and more to act exclusively in the interests of the ruling class - whether that class be hereditary royalty, oligarchs of financial empires, or entrenched bureaucracy.”Frank Herbert

The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.” ― Isaac Asimov

A dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot.” ― Robert A. Heinlein

I was recently reflecting on how these things I read influenced and shaped my view of the world. Many of these writers had training in hard science. They were largely hopeful about humanity but also understood our hubris and vulnerabilities. Timeless themes for humanity. I have long given up reading science fiction for history, psychology, and sociology among other topics. Reflecting back there were themes in these books I am grateful to have been exposed to at a young age. I found this PEW Research Center article Among many U.S. children, reading for fun has become less common. I hope this trend shifts. I suspect young readers are also future dreamers. We need more of them! Grateful for a youth surrounded by books filled with ideas and inspirations.

What are you grateful for today?

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