It is still amazing to me how tethered we have become to electronic devices that were unknown not very many years ago. Evidence surrounds us: Last-minute texting in a movie theater as the clever video about no texting plays on the screen, restaurants where everybody in a dinner party is on a device, gyms where people cling to their phones while on treadmills or stationary bikes, airport conversations about unpleasant bosses and unreasonable customers that are almost impossible not to overhear, and professional conferences where some attendees are incapable of staying put for an hour without heading to the hallway to check one’s phone. A more personal example occurred this week. Our youngest grandchild and his family are visiting this week, and practically the first words out of his mouth early in his first morning with us were these: “Where’s my iPad?”
This is not a diatribe against technology. Being tethered to a device can certainly have undeniable benefits. It can keep us connected to people we love, can get us back on track when we are lost, provide ready access to abundant information, and is invaluable especially for those who are in professions that require immediate response to critical situations.
I am sure that most of us were tethered to something(s) long before the invention of smart phones, tablets, and other devices. And being untethered suggests to me floating aimlessly through life. But to be tethered can be confining and limiting so there must be some slack and give in the tether.
Ultimately the essential question is this: Are we tethered to the right things? At yesterday morning’s annual National Junior Honor Society induction ceremony at our school, I suggested that the occasion encouraged us to tether ourselves to things that have substance and value, including those items that we noted in honoring our inductees: scholarship (lifelong learning), service (“to serve a world in need” in the words of our school mission statement), leadership (making a positive difference each day), citizenship (staying healthily connected to all the communities of which we are members- from families to schools to neighborhoods to congregations to cities to countries to the world), and character (the bedrock of all the others, deepening each day the core values and principles that will stand us in good stead no matter what circumstances we face in our lives).
Finally, we are called to tether ourselves to a higher and transcendent purpose, which for me means being tethered to a loving God.
Until next time…