Saturday, April 21, 2012

We Need a Few More Optimists

They call it “rubbernecking.” That’s what we instinctually do when we’re driving in a car and pass by an accident. We strain our necks trying to peer out and catch sight of the victims of the crash.

I think we see many analogous versions of rubbernecking all around us.  What is the attraction of so many of the “reality shows” that are on TV today? Why does the Jerry Springer show get good ratings? I went on line to see the story line of some recent Springer episodes: “Lipstick Lesbians,” “I Slept with your Brother’s Boyfriend,”  “Your Husband Knocked Me Up,” and “Out of Control Catfights.” Why do we watch these shows? Why do we care about the lives of pathetic people living wrecked lives? Psychologists say it’s partly because we enjoy feeling superior to others.  When we watch “humilitainment,” as one person called it, we feel better about ourselves at the expense of someone else.

The problem is when there’s a car accident, and when drivers-by rubberneck, the police will tell you that there are often more wrecks, as people aren’t paying attention to where they are driving.

And there’s a parable in there somewhere, I think.  When we become fascinated by the misery of others, when we focus on what is wrong about someone else’s life, it’s easy to lose sight of where we are going.  And when we are swamped by the wreckage of other people’s lives, when we become accustomed to what is twisted and sad, it’s too easy for us to define deviancy down, too easy to set low bars for ourselves about what is right and good.

In contrast, Scripture tells us that “ whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell on these things. (Phillipians 4:8)

I will be honest with you. I find that verse challenging. I have a tendency to go right to the negative. My kids will tell you if we’re watching TV, I often make cutting remarks about people, disputing the claims they’re making, ridiculing their motives.  I need-all of us, I think, need—to be in the presence of optimists, people that see the good in others despite their flaws, people who help us focus on what is beautiful and not what is ugly.

Our world needs a few more optimists. I think that’s true of high schools, too, especially at this time of year as we become stressed about A.P exams, final exams, failing, or graduating. When we’re too busy or tired, it’s easy to become cranky, self-centered, mean-spirited, ugly with each other. Let’s work to be the opposite. Let’s go out of way to compliment, to thank, to congratulate, to become people that dwell on what's honorable, pure or excellent  in others. 

I'll be praying for you these next couple of weeks, and especially for you seniors. Work hard. 

No comments: