Wednesday, March 16, 2011

A Delicate Balance

Albert Wendt’s essay about writing as a form of technology was particularly intriguing to me as English major. Wendt seemed to be arguing that the written word is not detrimental to a culture (as many Postcolonial authors have suggested) but rather crucial, even necessary. The written word allows an individual to express themselves in a way different from speaking. Behind writing, the author can unveil their innermost thoughts and pass on wisdom to younger generations. In its own way writing is colonizing.
As an English major I have found that my literacy skills have allowed me to be a more expressive, personable individual. I believe that reading and writing is a form of freedom for me. I found, in many cases, that Liberal Arts majors are often more successful in interaction, and relationships than individuals who study something like business. Of course this is not always true, but personally I have found that writing is my greatest tool in communicating with the world. While abroad, I was able to write letter to my family back home and record my thoughts and emotions accurately in a journal. Writing freed my mind of the things that were burdening it. In class we said that the ability to go beyond your confines is a rare freedom, it is even considered revolutionary.
The idea of the written word was unknown and strange to the indigenous people of New Zealand. They relied solely on their oral traditions in order to pass on their wisdom. However, in their tradition they are limiting themselves instead of embracing a technology that can deepen the traditions of their culture. It is kind of ironic that authors like Patricia Grace do in fact use writing in order to spread the word about the Maori people. Without writing, it would be impossible for scholars to learn of these people and sympathize with their stories. We must figure out the balance between what is important and what is unnecessary and learn to let go. This idea is true not only with assimilating writing into a culture but with many other traditions as well. As generations change and adapt to an ever-changing world, past generations must learn to blend with the new times and learn from those younger than them. Similarly, our generation must not forget to listen to the wise words of those before us in order to push ourselves further into the future. This balance is absolutely crucial to our question of freedom. I believe that freedom is found in those that hold strong to their moral convictions and beliefs but are also able to adapt and change to a world that will never stop growing. To put it metaphorically, we must try to resemble the waves in the ocean. While we are part of that ocean for life, we must learn to flow through our days and change with new knowledge.

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