I have quit watching television news. I am no longer watching the people dying, leaders corrupting, riots starting, minorities complaining, majorities minimizing, children disappearing, and skies falling.
Before you accuse me of ignoring the problems of the world, let me explain.
Whenever I’m watching the news I get this sense that I am the audience in an effort to entertain. No matter how horrible the story is, the cameras allow us to anonymously stare at the tragedy. We are given the best possible angles. The closer we can get to the “dirt” the more we want to watch. We quickly become fixated on these images that get us closer to the action and into the story.
Allowing the tragedies of the world to be our entertainment gradually lessens our concern with doing things that help alleviate suffering. I doubt that anyone consciously says that they watch the news for its entertainment value, but it is the nature of television to make things as entertaining as possible to keep people watching. More viewers equals more commercials which equals more revenue.
If we want to know what is going on in the world, we should start reading. It will awaken our mental and moral faculties. We may even decide to focus some of our plentiful resources toward helping those we read about who suffer. Prayer flows more easily when we aren’t surrounded by noise. Consider those “top stories” about music and movie stars who have been accused of a crime. Instead of adding them to the list of fascinating cultural dramas, wouldn’t the victims and the accused benefit from our occasional prayers for them?
I also have a tendency to believe that the problems of the world are only “out there”–in someone else’s life, some other neighborhood, or some other country. Television reinforces this misguided belief.
When the London Times asked for writers to respond to the question “What is Wrong with the World?” G.K. Chesterton wrote this reply:
In Scripture, we discover this link between humbling ourselves in repentance and being empowered by God for action. The Old Testament prophet Zephaniah’s words were to “seek the LORD, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility.”
Let us pay reverent attention to the need in our own soul for transformation. As we do, we will be propelled into purposeful living–inviting change within and initiating change in the world around us.