Within the past year, our city and county educational systems have committed to a community literacy project. Resources have been pledged to help our area students read proficiently by third grade. This effort is strongly supported by our mayor, county commissioners, the chamber of commerce, business and civic leaders, Archway Partnership, Grow Greater Dalton and others. The ultimate goal of this venture is to improve the quality of life in our community.
This effort will impact our workforce and individual earning potential, decrease high school dropout rates, decrease teenage pregnancies, foster healthy and nutritional-minded citizens, and produce a diversified workforce in our area. These factors are the byproducts of the literacy program. But, there is a spiritual element in this venture that has not been addressed. How so?
The author of Ecclesiastes 7:12 addresses this matter. It reads, “Wisdom, like an inheritance, is a good thing and benefits those who see the sun. Wisdom is a shelter as money is a shelter, but the advantage of knowledge is this: that wisdom preserves the life of its possessor.”
Education (knowledge, wisdom) is related to our spirituality. Solomon, the author of Ecclesiastes, is again dispensing some of his sage advice. He is telling the people (us) that education preserves and enhances the life of those who have it. It is a blessing to be able to acquire an education (albeit sometimes costly). But the benefits outweigh the costs. Life is enhanced. The quality of life is expanded by the variety of available choices education yields.
Just what are these expanded variety of choices? One is the ability to purchase better housing, Another one is the ability to provide more for our children-family. Another is the ability to afford traveling and be exposed to other lifestyles. Another is the ability to have economic upgrading for ourselves. Spiritually it allows us to have the ability to think more deeply about our God, to analyze our being, to be more compassionate in our worldly choices.
As we gain this knowledge, we should become more responsible persons. This responsibility should lead us to better maintain our environment. It should make us more responsible in making our local domain a better place to live. We should be more responsible in crime maintenance, gang defiance, economic upgrading, racial equality and the preservation of a better quality of life for ourselves and others.
The local literacy movement is being incorporated in our primary educational systems in Dalton. It is hopeful that this will reap benefits as persons matriculate to secondary educational levels and into our workforce. Educational conceit is not the goal, but instead spiritual righteousness.
Therefore, the local literacy movement in Dalton is linked to preserving our community. It is included in one of the directives of God to mankind, “be fruitful and multiply.” By doing so (being fruitful) we honor God and improve our quality of life. Can one think of a better legacy to leave our community?
Rodney Weaver is the pastor at Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church.