July 9 - 15 , 2007




Shut off the electronics and live a little

We were six dads spending a week with 10 Cub Scouts, aged 8 and 9, in a Boy Scout camp. There was no TV. No video games. No electronic toys. No VCR or DVD player. No computer. No mp3 player. All we had at camp was a Wiffle ball and bat, as well as a foam football.

Does this sound like a recipe for disaster? It did to me. I figured that without their customary assortment of glitzy toys the boys would soon be running wild like starving wolves.

To my great astonishment, during free time the boys organized themselves into teams and groups and began to play games with the three pieces of decidedly low-tech equipment. They made up rules (and fought about the rules!), but managed to keep occupied for hours on end.

That must have been how people occupied their time in the days before any of us had TV, or radio, or video games, or computers. In other words, just a few score years ago.

Not long ago, people entertained themselves by taking whatever they had on hand and using their intelligence and imaginations to have fun. It required the cooperation of other people in a mutually beneficial arrangement: If you play ball with me, we can both have fun. If you don’t, neither of us has much fun.

Although we enjoy them mightily, perhaps our video games, high-speed Internet, movies on demand and 24/7 news and sports do not serve us well. They provide too many readily available options for entertainment that does not require that I find other people to help me have fun. Sure, I’d have more fun if you watch a baseball game or a movie with me, but I can have lots of fun just by myself. And for the most part they also don’t require us to use our brains or imaginations very much. We passively consume.

So that’s why the experience of 10 school-aged Cub Scouts delighted me so. It let me know that the ability to have fun, to pick up an object and develop a game, to bring others into our lives for mutual enjoyment – all these things are kind of hard-wired into us as a species. Boys who were raised with Cable TV, a PlayStation in their bedrooms, computers in their houses and mp3 players in their jeans pockets, these boys nonetheless naturally found company and fun with a Wiffle ball, a Wiffle bat and a foam football.

How much life can we all find when we disconnect the electronics from our lives?

--Rob Blezard, editor and webmaster

Reprint rights gladly given for nonprofit, congregational use. Just include this notice: “Copyright (c) 2007 the Rev. Robert Blezard, archive.stewardshipoflife.org. Used by permission.

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