Yesterday, coworkers in their 20s offered me Reese’s Pieces. In my best E.T. voice, I said, “E.T., phone home.” They just looked at me like they thought I had Tourette Syndrome.
They are in their 20s. I don’t really expect them to know who the Beatles are. I don’t even expect them to know Jewel, Dave Matthews Band, or Seal.
But, E.T.??? By any standards, it is a classic.
Cultural literacy is so important to me. I didn’t just know the music and movies of my own era, but also of my mom’s and grandmother’s lifetime. I sat up late, watching old movies with them, listened to their records. My awareness of the Great Depression helped me understand my mother’s nagging about turning off lights when we leave a room. Understanding the sacrifices and crises of WWII helped me comprehend the “Cold War” era in which I was growing up. I don’t only remember where I was when I heard President Kennedy had been assassinated. I know where my mother was when she learned Ofthe Pearl Harbor bombing.
Consequently, I made a concerted effort to ensure my kids would be culturally literate. I had them watch old movies with me. As a result, they know, not just my 60s/70s music, but also Sinatra, etc. People cannot just literally “live in the moment,” with no comprehension of all that went before you. It is necessary to know the sacrifices that were made, all that built the foundation, and bought the opportunity that makes it possible for you to live in your own personal, little, self-centered moment.
“Here endeth the lesson.” (Sean Connery’s character Jim Malone in The Untouchables- yes, another must-see for cultural literacy.)
Now, for the requisite “call to action:”
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