The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. Alvin Toffler
Years ago I was in the USAirways club at LaGuardia airport in New York. A friend from my hometown came in to wait for the same flight back to Charlotte. I put my book back in my briefcase and we talked for a while. Soon it was time to board and I took my coveted, upgraded seat in first class for the flight home and pulled out Alvin Toffler’s book, Future Shock.
As I sat reading and waiting for the peons to board, my friend, Rick, walked by and asked about the book. I told him a little about it, Toffler’s assertion that we face too much change too quickly and this state of “future shock” is the root of most all social problems. Rick went home, got the book and shifted his career, becoming a futurist in the fields of community building and civic progress. Toffler’s work has that kind of power.
Toffler’s quote above reminds me of another piece of wisdom about this subject that occurred on the 16th birthday of Carol, the only child of my mentor Arno. Their minister, Carlyle Marney, about whom I’ve written before*, looked at Carol and said, “Hopefully, we’ve taught you in a way that doesn’t have to be undone later.” Marney knew that in order to be and stay intelligent, an open mind is required, along with a willingness to adapt one’s thinking in light of changing information and circumstances.
What has happened in this country today? Intellectual curiosity, the willingness and/or ability to shift one’s thoughts and beliefs is heresy for many people. As the great philosopher Frank Zappa told us, “A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it’s not open.” Accepting changing circumstances and events as part of life and amending one’s worldview is not encouraged, and yet it is essential for the kind of citizens who will take the world into a future most people on earth long to have.
*”Giving Grace” at Mentorboom.com