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Modern Times
Written 1964 and 1965

The pace of the world has quickened considerably in the past hundred years.  Rapid advances in communication and transportation have made it possible for farmers in Iowa, say, to concern themselves with more national and international problems than their 19th-century counterparts even knew existed.

Since we are able to worry about more things, life has become more complicated.  More problems are presented to us, most of which we can do little about, and it seems that most of our time is spent rushing from one activity to another with never a moment to spare.

A 17-year-old boy in 1864 Iowa probably spent his daylight hours working on his father's farm, unless he had already struck out on his own.  From early dawn to late dusk he labored in the fields, except for a little time off to eat.  His only recreation came after dark or on Sundays, and this consisted largely of conversation with his family and others nearby.  If he were a bright young man, he might still be going to school; but this was done in the winter, when there were snow and wind and cold and when he was not needed for farm work.  His life was simple—and it was dull; it was busy—and it was tiring.

In 1964 that same boy would be in high school, preparing himself for a career.  His life would be busy and tiring, but certainly not dull.  The many activities would give him a sense of having accomplished something other than merely growing corn.  He would find the life interesting, and he would find many chances to use his abilities.  His day would be no more crowded than in 1864; he would still have sixteen hours to wake and eight to sleep, but with more different things to be done in those sixteen hours.  And he would probably enjoy his varied and complex life more than the boring monotony of farming.

And yet, when I try to squeeze out of my sixteen hours time enough
to go to school,
to eat three meals,
to study algebra, chemistry, English, and history,
to study for the scholarship test,
to do long-range assignments for English and history,
to be a student manager in sports,
to practice the piano,
to work on music for the church,
to be active in MYF and Sunday school,
to read the newspaper,
to work on class projects like the Junior-Senior Prom,
to relax,
to write,
to think . . .
and dream . . .

I wonder whether it would not be better to do one thing and to do it well.

High school is a whirling hurricane of activity.  Students enter it on the outside edges, but they are soon caught up in the racing winds of work and recreation which for four years spin them faster and faster until suddenly they are hurled out into the calm eye of the storm upon graduation.  And sometimes this whirling makes them dizzy.

I do not complain about the hurricane, for I know there are many other people who lead much more hectic lives.  Yet, at times, I sigh.

Plan a five-minute speech every week for speech class!
Write three themes every week for English composition!
Arrange a program every week for Youth Fellowship!

Read a wide variety of books!
Watch good television programs!
Read newspapers!  Watch newscasts!
Study civics!  Study physics!  Study geometry!

Rehearse the senior play!
Calculate basketball statistics!
Give time to worthy causes!
Achieve high rankings on the scholarship tests!
Arrange music!  Practice music!  Perform music!
Plan a career!

Have a good time!
Make friends!
Spend time at home!
Do what you like to do!
Do more than is asked of you!
Do everything well!

Emulate!  Cogitate!  Speculate!
Compose!  Invent!  Attain!
Think!  Try!  Live!



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