I am a reader. I love to read. I read in a variety of genres and pretty much any format. I read to learn and I read to escape. I love the feel and smell of books. I like the physicality of turning pages and the heft of a book in my hand although I have also been known to greet the dawn with a story on my Nook reader. When I was young I would often get into trouble for reading instead of completing my work around the house. I thought reading was a great reason not to do the dishes. Some of my favorite books were about other kids living in different countries or different parts of my own country.
I enjoyed reading about the things they did to help their parents or how they met their friends. I was fascinated with their lives and the descriptions of their homes were interesting to me. Heidi comes to mind. I wanted to be a goat herder and tend to my grandfather. Anne of Green Gables and I was ready to move to a remote island where it is freezing cold. The Light in the Forest had me dreaming of living in the forests of Ohio and becoming a member of the Lenni Lenape Indian tribe.
The scariest books were about the lives of the folks dealing with the Nazis.
I poured through the Diary of Anne Frank and Corie Ten Boom’s Hiding Place. Then I thought I should memorize a book just in case they started book burning (Fahrenheit 451) and I was needed to pass on the information to another generation. With my own children I have read Number the Stars and Book Thief and watched the movie The Boy in Striped Pajamas. We always end up in a conversation about freedom and how things are different today than they were during the time frames of these books.
As I child I was always bothered by the necessity of my characters to have papers. In the books every person had to have papers or they were taken away or something bad happened to them. They stood in lines for long periods of time and they were always worried about their papers. I knew I had a birth certificate somewhere and I got my social security card when I was a teenager but I never worried about papers that much. After I got my driver’s license I carried a wallet or a purse, but still did not carry papers as such. We got married and I began a collection of important papers that fit into a very small fireproof box that we kept in our closet. And we were fine.
Currently, I carry papers to verify everything under the sun. To get into a school system we need about twenty different forms. To purchase a home or rent a home I need verification of everything but the freckles on my back. Rent a car on a trip and I need an entire file cabinet of papers proving who I am and what my income is. Go to the Doc in a Box for strep throat and they require me to leave an open credit card on file so they can charge me in case my insurance paperwork does not pan out. I won’t even go into the necessary paperwork needed to get a driver’s license and registration.
In our new, improved world of digital everything, I am finding that I need more papers than ever before. Marriage License to prove that my name is what I say my name is. Birth Certificate. Tax returns. Passports. Shot records. Utility bills. Deeds. Certifications. Licenses. Titles. They (whoever “they” are) take my papers and scan them into their databases and assure me that no one else will ever see my information. Really? I would venture to guess that my personal information is floating in cyberspace on about fifty different databases. The Book 1984 by George Orwell comes to mind. Big Brother is certainly something to think about these days.
And while I do have all my paperwork in order, and the paperwork of my children, and the paperwork of my husband, I have to wonder about things like integrity, kindness, and honesty. Where do these things come into play in our world of validation and paper proving? What happens when we lose our sense of morality but hang on to useless papers?
We live in a scary world. I am thankful that the ONE still in charge reads hearts and not papers.