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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Gray Matter: Dylan got it right

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

"The times they are a changin'" - It was certainly true in the '60's when Bob Dylan first sang those words, but in my opinion it may be even more true today.

Our rural American communities, for example, bear little resemblance to the stereotypes most of us hold in the backs of our minds. Still, that isn't all bad. I will be the first to admit that change is inevitable.

We are often reminded that the world is "shrinking" and "flattening." As this happens we are forced to adjust, and it has been suggested that some very positive things could come about as a result.

There is space and sought-after quiet out here in rural America. The air is clearer and the water purer (if we make sure to keep them that way), and living costs are certainly lower. All told, it is a more desirable place to enjoy our earthly years. Until now, of course, many people were denied this choice because their jobs were only available in cities.

Due to rapidly developing technologies, that is changing. A forward-thinking government official recently pointed out that improved broadband internet access, for example, would allow vast new opportunities for employment in rural areas.

As a result, high tech workers could stay right here and maintain their jobs. I was delighted to discover this is not just a pipe dream, but that it is being carried out in our very midst.

I could cite several examples, but I will settle for one. A young woman, who earned her BA with a double major in English and writing, was granted an internship last summer with a religious publishing house in a major mid-western city.

She loved the job and found her co-workers most compatible, but she could not abide the claustrophobic atmosphere in which she was forced to function. The cubicles were stifling, the only window near her looked out on a blank brick wall, and living costs were astronomical.

Her employers were totally pleased with her performance. Her attitude and talents precisely fit the position they offered her as an editor for their publications, but she turned it down.

In the ensuing negotiations, when her feelings were thoroughly understood, the young woman was offered a perfect solution. The publishing company would be delighted to have her work for them long distance. For the past year, this talented gal has been editing scholarly manuscripts, writing inspirational essays and serving as assistant editor for a young people's magazine - all from her lap-top in the quiet, open, comfortable atmosphere she loves. She is happy and so are her employers!

When they recently offered her an additional opportunity to assist in re-working some of their religious education materials, the young woman knew she would need further training to do the job effectively. So this coming year she is going to pursue a Masters degree in theology at a major seminary. When she has accomplished that goal, due to the proliferation of broadband internet access, she knows she will be able to continue her intriguing career from whatever location she chooses, with absolutely no restrictions.

I am told this effect on rural America is but one of the benefits for masses of folks around the world whose lives are being improved by the myriad of technological innovations taking place today. Dylan was right, the times are, indeed, changin,' but it is certainly not all for the worse!