It has long been understood by those in the media that our consuming eyes are drawn to the sensational. This is summed up in the simple statement “if it bleeds, it leads.” Very seldom do feel-good stories lead the way in the news, as content providers instead focus on those stories that stir up feelings of fear or anger. To make matters worse, it seems as though our media providers now focus on providing content according to an ideology. If you combine these two factors – selective stories and an ideological perspective – you can quickly become convinced that there isn’t much good in this world.
In the pre-pandemic world, the images that we were bombarded with in the media were countered by our actual human, personal experiences. We could have lunch with our neighbors who happen to vote for a different party, and know that they were good and decent people who cared deeply for us and our welfare. We could work alongside those people who were actively doing good works, and realize that they had the support of so many others. Those, and so many other regular personal experiences gave us an unfiltered, non-ideological view of the world around us that balanced out the various media narratives.
Unfortunately, one of the side effects of social distancing is that it has made us more dependent upon the media narratives, and made it difficult for us to have those regular interactions that would keep us in balance. Without our regular healthy doses of love and kindness and beauty, we slowly begin to believe the narrative that is driven by ratings versus reality. We gradually succumb to the story lines that we are being fed – that the person who is clearly far outside the norm is actually representative of the entire group of people who support a position – and we forget that we can actually have civil and loving conversations with people who believe differently from us.
Now, as we work our way back into society and back into those moments of interaction with others, it is too easy for us to be influenced by the last few months of media. There are too many stories of people bullying others, threatening them, saying rude and totally unwarranted things. We are even seeing instances of those things here in our precious community. I realize that there are many other factors at play right now, but none of those will justify pouring out hatred, anger and violence on your neighbor.
It is time to rebuild our personal reservoirs of human kindness and charity. Turn off your computers and televisions, and get outside to experience reality. You can socially distance and still interact with others to see how they are doing. You can find out who has been working to ease the pain of these last few months, whether that be physical, emotional, spiritual or economical, and support them (or even join them). Escape from the isolation that has plagued us these last few months, and restore your faith in humanity.
Peace and blessings – Pastor Aaron