Elder, David “Doc” Kenser, shares with us a daily devotion and reflection.
Perhaps you’ve heard of the recent trend in schools to forego teaching children to write in cursive. Conventional wisdom suggests that cursive is going the way of the buggy whip, simply not something people of the Digital Age have a need for anymore.
In today’s world, who writes a note when texting is so much easier and more convenient? With smart phone in hand, why ever put a hand to paper at all? Do we really need to write on a piece of paper, stuff it in an envelope, put a stamp on it and wait for days for a communication process that could be accomplished in seconds with the mobile computer in your hand?
Do we really need to be able to write in cursive or are we wrong to let is slip away? That question is similar to asking whether we need to be able to read a chronograph watch in a digital age or be able to figure math in your head when your phone in your hand has a calculator. Are these simple relics of a by-gone age or is there some value in maintaining them?
I personally like the fact that I know numbers. I can figure out what to tip a waitress before someone can pull their phone out of their pocket. If the battery runs out, I can still compute using my brain within. I wear a chronograph watch because looking at one shows me the time instead of telling me the time. I can see what time it is, what time it was and what time it will be as I look at the position of the hands on the dial. A digital watch can only tell you what time it is.
Cursive writing does something that keyboarding cannot do as well – it connects you to a piece of paper that allows for a flow from your brain to the paper’s surface. In counseling, journaling has long been a very useful tool as it allows for the outward flow of an inward trouble. The movement of the hand across a pad with pen in hand has a therapeutic effect.
Cursive writing has a personal touch that simply cannot be replicated by a digital imprint, it is an extension of yourself that is uniquely you. When a loved one leaves a hand-written note, you can tell even without a signature because it is uniquely their hand-writing. Things written centuries ago can be identified as to source by the cursive marks on a page.
Speaking of identifying, how does one identify a signature if no one knows how to write or read in cursive? Are we to, in effect, leave a digital X? Would printing your name actually replace signing your name? If one cannot read cursive, how does one acknowledge a signature? Do we really lose nothing by resigning cursive writing to a place in history?
Today, I don’t have to memorize Scripture, I can just look it up on the Bible app in my iPhone. But if I relied solely on that, I would to have Scripture ingrained in my head. Scripture lives in my brain because it is committed to memory. It is there in that instant when I am faced with temptation or trying to make an important decision. The Scritture written in my mind and impressed in my heart is always with me. Digital recall will often be out of reach in the instant needed.
Yesterday evening, I was in an elders’ meeting. I had my iPhone at hand but I also had a small note pad and a pen. I jotted things down in cursive that were said, which I wanted to reflect on later. When I decide to read those notes, I may well put them in digital form to store and/or share. Those notes are uniquely mine and I will recognize them and even remember the setting in which they were written. Cursive has a power and a presence that digital lacks.
Do we need to write cursive? Are we wrong to digitize our writing completely? I am not certain that we need it, but I am convinced that we will be missing something important and that we will be lesser as a society without it.
For me, it was a write (pun intended “rite”) of passage when I went from printing to cursive. It was an important part of my journey to adulthood: “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me” (1 Cor 13:11). Jus’ Say’n.