A column about history, culture, policy, and things in between.
An African Basuto proverb says the following:
"If a man does away with his traditional way of living and throws away his good customs, he had better first make certain that he has something of value to replace them".
I thought of this proverb last weekend when I purchased a used set of books entilted "The Children's Classics". Contained in this worn collection are treasures of literature best intended for young audiences. Titles such as Black Beauty, Robinson Crusoe, The Arabian Knights, King Arthur, Treasure Island, and many others. I found the hard-covered set at an estate sale, and they instantly brought back fond memories of my boyood and elementary school days.
Today we are witnessing the disappearance of the classics from our libraries, and from the bolt of our cultural fabric. In another generation these titles will not even be recognized, in which case of course, we will cease to call them classics. There are two questions to be asked in light of this:
>Does this matter?
>Have we replaced the passtime of reading and the quality of such content with anything of equal value?
Something of Value is the title of a novel published in 1955 by Robert Ruark, and is the source of the Basuto proverb. A film of the same name was made in 1957, and starred Signey Poitier and Rock Hudson. Robert Ruark was a prolific American columnist and author. He was also a big-game hunter who spent much of his time in Africa.