The Little House on the Prairie series offers us lessons in gratitude and hard work. The chronicles tell of a time stained with imperfection, as with the mistreatment of the Indians. But what interests me at the moment is the rich heritage of plain hard work the pioneer life entrusted the children of America. So I will borrow this time and place in history for a prototype of the ethos that embodies industry and endurance. I am concerned that the abuse of technology today threatens to cut our kids loose from such a work ethic and will hamper their learning and productive capacity.
First, the merits of mechanized living. To say technology is indispensable is to say it is terrific. You will hear no complaints from me about my washing machine. I often counter my own grumblings against the loads to run with the reminder that what I’m doing isn’t laundry. What my grandmother did by the winter river was laundry. I’m sure the Wilders on the prairie would not have minded running water – especially if it weren’t the chlorinated tap from our cities. Technology has freed us to create things we could not imagine in times past and has changed how we invent across the spectrum of life. In the arts, sciences, reconstruction of history. Case in point, this dialogue on an international platform with readers across the world. America is still the trademark of free enterprise and I love it. If you’re willing to apply yourself, the sky’s the limit. There is opportunity, there is help, there is scholarship, there is room on the showcase for unique talent. I just fear that each new generation is growing less and less willing to apply itself. Consumerism was nowhere near a household word in the prairie days. Survival meant production, problem-solving, resourcefulness. “Hard” work was a given for both adult and child, the very fabric of life and of growing up, not an extra 30 minutes of exercise they congratulated themselves for. By nature of the wonderful beast, technology will only augment our comfort and efficiency of living as it increasingly bests itself.