Monday, July 25, 2016

Peace and County Fairs

The other night I was returning home late from a meeting and I was driving down main street of my home town and I noticed a young person (probably late teens maybe early twenties) walking down the street with his phone held up in front of his face. It seemed like kind of an odd thing to be doing so I quizzed the teenagers in my household about it.
It seems as though there is this game called Pokemon Go where you wander around places watching through the camera on your phone waiting for different characters to pop up. I really do not understand this game, nor do I want to understand it. I guess I have reached “old geezer” status. But it did leave me with a couple of thoughts. First, I guess at least they have to be outside and exercise a little bit. Second, how sad it is that the only way to get some kids (and adults) off of the couch is with some game on their phone.
I also think it is another disturbing sign of how our society has become more and more dependent on our cell phones. I have heard the addiction to your cell phone is somewhere close to addiction to drugs and I would believe it. I am example A for this. Often I find the urge to check my phone overpowering and often I allow it to divert too much of my attention.
Recently, we have seen news stories and incidents where cell phone video has sparked protests and created controversy. We are too quick to judge people and their actions based only on a few seconds of video versus waiting for the entire story to be told. All of this rush to judgment (on either side) has serious repercussions. It adds to our stress and allows us to become bogged down with worry.
I don’t know about you but I really crave a break from the current news cycle and I want a reminder of all that is right in this world because I still believe there is a lot that is good and right. Thank goodness it is county fair time. If you want a snap shot of how the world should be go to your local county fair and look around. Often it reminds me of a time before we had all of this technology at our finger tips and maybe the world was a simpler, less stressful place.
Often I like to just sit in the bleachers or on a bench at the county fair and just watch what is going on around me. You will see neighbors and old friends engaging in conversations and catching up on what has happened since the last county fair. It is a place where kids play and meet new friends, many times the old friends catching up nearby started out as those kids playing at that very same county fair.
It is a place that will renew your faith in the next generation. You can see the hard work and skills they have acquired over the past year on display through the projects that line the barns and exhibit buildings. If you want to know more about what they have learned or how passionate they are about their projects, just ask them and you will be amazed at the answers you get in return. This is where our future community leaders are being trained.
I love the sights, smells and sounds of a county fair. Oh sure, the advances in technology have come to the county fair too. I know our fair and many others tout free wifi for those of us sufficiently addicted to our phones. At first I lamented the addition of an on ramp to the internet, but maybe it isn’t all that bad.
Remember, my earlier lament about all of the negative video on the internet. All of that footage of all of the bad things that happen in our world, coming to us in real time. Maybe we could try to reverse this trend of negativity by sharing some of the good things and wholesomeness of our local, small town county fairs. Show the kids playing, old friends talking and the youth displaying what they have learned. Let’s bombard the internet with good things.
No, on second thought, let’s just enjoy the moment without worrying about our phone or recording every second and truly start living. Make it a point to spend time at your county fair, take it all in and remember just how good life can be, I promise it will soothe your soul. And if you need a game to get you there it is OK, I suppose. Just remember to look away from the screen every once in a while and watch where you step.

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