May 2, 2005
The Master's Program
The Point of View - A Weekly Commentary by Bob Shank

Dear Marketplace Friend, 

      What time is it?

      That's no random question. If we lived in God's neighborhood, it wouldn't be terribly important; when the calendar on the wall says "eternity," there's no push from deadlines. Whatever you're doing, you can invest the effort to deliver excellence; there's no clock ticking, demanding completion before closure.

      But we're not in that framework: we're livin' in a place where time is one of the defining dimensions. Seconds ... minutes ... hours ... days ... weeks ... months ... years ... decades ... centuries; time is packaged in ever-larger containers, and we see them movin' down the road of history ...

      Epochs are less measured. more by quality than by quantity. How long is an "age?" No set timbre for that designation. Some smart dude or dudette somewhere tagged this "the Information Age;" I don't remember voting on that moniker, but I accept it as our answer to the question. What time is it? It's the Information Age.

      When you get into new time space, you often discover that the rules changed when the chapter pages turned. You might be the boss, but if you're trying to enforce old rules in a new age, your badge may not hold much sway with the troops.

      That fact became factious when Alberto Gonzales - the Attorney General of the US of A - made a visit to UCLA as a presenter at the "Activate Your Mind: Protect Your Ideas" seminar. Whoa, baby; there's trouble in the ranks ...

      The seminar was sponsored/encouraged by groups like the Screen Actors Guild and the Motion Picture Association of America. Interesting special interests: these are the folks whose primary target audience - their box office bulls eyes - are college-aged students. Their normal fare includes the "question and defy authority" flicks that celebrate dissing the system and winning. With that as their bread and butter, what was the seminar's focus?

      Here it is, in a nutshell: just say "no" to download piracy. In the Information Age, the muggers don't have guns and getaway cars. Armored trucks can't protect copyrights in the New Age. Burglar alarms don't sound when a movie is digitally passed between Powerbooks, but the whole world of intellectual property is poised to become a land of larceny based on the feedback from the seminar ...

      Why is the campus crowd enjoying their favorite tunes without paying a nickel? One 26-year-old junior put it this way: "When I buy a CD I feel like I'm paying for corporate lawyers (probably his dad, who's still paying for junior's extended education) and corporate headquarters and, no offense, but I don't want to do that ... and I don't have to." Att'y Gen'l Gonzales explained the law ... and the consequences of violation. The reaction? "No one's going to relate to it," said an 18-year-old high schooler invited to attend. "I don't feel like I'm doing something wrong."

      Long before modern-day Israel, old-days Israel was a lot like modern-day America, circa Information Age. Miraculously moved into the Promised Land, they were enjoying abundance ... but experienced cultural erosion: "At that time the Israelites left that place and went home to their tribes and clans, each to his own inheritance. In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit." (Judges 21:24-25)

      They had the laws; Moses had taken care of that. They were wealthy - their inheritance was great. They had no enforcers; no executive branch to administrate justice. "Everyone did as he saw fit." Problem?

      Modern research says it clearly: children have their lifetime values established by age 9. What values define our modern society? Hang out outside the Activate Your Mind seminar and listen to the buzz. "I don't feel like I'm doing something wrong."

      Breaking news bulletin: our sophisticated society still needs a Savior. Left to ourselves, sin is natural. Surrendered to Him, solutions are supernatural. How 'bout let's change our world ... and build God's Kingdom?

Bob Shank

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