Wellsprings of Despair
Pop Quiz: what command did Jesus give more often than any other? It was this: "Fear not." We are told time and time again that fear is not to be our default response for "perfect love casts out fear."
So why are we so afraid? Much of it has to do with television. Don't stop reading, yet! I have TVs, enjoy them, and one is one right now. It is a 20/20 program about the honor killing of a young Sikh girl by her uncle for the crime of not marrying a man 40 years old than her when that man was handpicked by her tribe.
Did you know about honor killing? It might be important to gain a basic understanding of what it is and how it has entered our society via Mideastern and Eastern religions. But how much do you really need to know about it?
How much did you need to know about the wacky weirdo that claimed he loved, then killed, Jon Benet Ramsey? Regardless of whether or not you were interested in him, Captain Highpants was on every newscast, in every newspaper, and discussed in every radio newsbreak for two weeks.
Did you really need to know about Ernesto? It was a rain storm. That's it. Yet, we had weather people standing on beaches decrying the approaching 30mph winds. Well, 15mph but sometimes they gusted up to 30!!!! And rain! It was going to rain, too! Some. I have lived through six hurricanes and I enjoyed them at about a root-canal level, but this was silly.
Here's a flashback for you: when I was kid, evening news ran twenty or twenty five minutes with a five to fifteen minute local news segment attached. That was it. No talk radio, no 24/7 news, no more than one or two newsmagazines floating around if you looked for them (but they were mainly photos -- remember "Look" and "Life"?). You were told some of what was going on around the world, but there wasn't time to mine stories for the worst possible spin, for ways to frighten you, or for ways to get you outraged.
News is out there, but only the bad stuff is interesting enough to broadcast because happy stuff won't keep us watching. American soldiers have distributed nearly a million dollars of clothes and food -- this year alone -- that was sent to them by their hometowns and families. They clothed Iraqis, gave them school supplies, fixed their homes and plumbing, etc. but that doesn't make the news. What makes the news are things like bombs, fear, pessimism, hurt, anger... that is what we have to see and talk about ad nauseum. That is why Cindy Sheehan is on our TVs but the parents of those Marines who died with him are not. They are at peace with their sons' service and Cindy is not. Anger and unrest leads... especially if it bleeds.
When it isn't fear-mongering, TV wants you to be uneasy about your life, your appearance, your weight, health, and financial future. It, along with billboards, Sunday circulars, and radio ads, tell you that people won't like you if your hair isn't right, if your breath isn't great, if your clothes aren't right, and if you don't know what bands are cool and what ones aren't. You are never allowed to rest, never allowed to be at peace. Many ads for pharmaceuticals don't even tell you what the medicine does. They just tell you to "ask your doctor if *** is right for you!" (oh, if only those interminable ads for ED meds were as discreet)
Here is something to think about. If fear, unrest, and discontent is a part of your life, monitor what you watch and what you listen to and make adjustments as necessary. Skip reading the ads in the paper. Mute the commercials on TV. Move away from talk radio and substitute music of your choice, online sermons from edifying speakers, or simple silence. Cancel your newsmagazines if they are bothering you, keeping you at "Alert" about issues here, there and everywhere. (I can see my email now, so let me answer them before they come in: stay informed about current events and vote your faith and conscience... but do so in moderation and take breaks from being so entangled in the affairs of this world).
And when it all gets too much to bear, start a "fast" from media, take time out, and serve someone. Make them cookies or fudge, mow their lawn, help them care for an elderly parent, sit and read for someone... you get the idea.
The media has become a set of wellsprings of despair. Like anything else that can be good for you in small doses and deadly in large ones, monitor your intake carefully and react quickly when you find your joy slipping away and your fear increasing.
"Be still and know that I am God...." "The Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him..."