Over the past year, I have been at home, staying away from places where people congregate. I have been watching more television shows, both series and news programs. I conclude that audiences seem to expect and consume more drama, intensity, “breaking news,” danger, and the outrageous. Presentations that get the ol’ adrenaline pumping, or super sales offers that get encourage folks to use their credit cards to order more “stuff” are what prevail. Shows that investigate crimes and analyze in great detail the how-tos of perpetrating those crimes are portrayed as “entertaining.”
Because of modern technology, people expect to be quickly entertained. It can be easy to swallow spoonsful of self-indulgence when they are so readily available. If there is good news or incidents that are not so violent, we often see and hear about them only in the last few minutes at the ends of broadcasts.
I also hear about people of all ages being more stressed out and depressed. The virus pandemic has been blamed for this, but I suggest that the intensity of media presentations might be a contributing factor—sort of a CTSD, Current Traumatic Stress Syndrome.
We have high-speed internet, fast foods, instant coffee, high-speed rail, and overnight delivery. We expect instant gratification. Often, we don’t need or want to be patient. We get used to the drama on demand!
But If we slowed down, we might find time to pray a little more and pay attention to the gifts we already have. For example, in Psalm 139 (13-14), we are reminded that God is our Creator:
For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Do we appreciate that when one part of our body has a problem, other parts kick in to pick up the slack? And sometimes, we don’t even know it right away. Do we acknowledge God’s creativity when he gave us fingernails and so many joints and bones? Do we think about how many tasks our bodies can accomplish every day?
Do we remember times in our lives when others did unexpected, kind gestures to help us? We have minds that hold memories so that we can learn and grow from those times. We might decide to copy a kind gesture, because we remember how good it felt when we were the recipient. Can we afford the time to gently help someone else, not in some big dramatic way, but in a humble, loving way the person would not expect?
St. Paul tells us, in his letter to the Ephesians (2:10):
For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be our way of life.
We all have individual talents that we are so used to having we might not think about them. We might have a gift of organization, or a gift of a sense of humor, or a talent for sewing or carpentry. Some small project using your gift might brighten someone’s day. Your “breaking news” of a gift to that person might just break the monotony or loneliness he or she is experiencing.
If we get tired of all the drama and bad news, we can go to sacred scripture where, in John’s Gospel (14:27), Jesus tells us what to expect:
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
Photo: LOGAN WEAVER on Upspalsh
The scripture passages are from the Revised Standard Version of the Bible: Catholic Edition, copyright © 1965, 1966 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Sharon Krause is a RENEW volunteer whose writing has appeared in several resources for small-group faith sharing. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother residing in Manchester, Connecticut. Over the years, she has served in many parish ministries.