Oprah makes me mad. Not really “her” but what her show does. She just did a sensational (and by that I mean “hyped up” not “really awesome”) show about child molestation. On this show, she played recordings a pedophile made while watching children load up on a school bus. Did we need to hear this? We are all well aware that there are sick people in the world, do we have to participate in their depravity by hearing all the gory details. This has become “journalism”. Oprah is this great hero who is not afraid to confront the real issues and talk about them frankly. No way.
Oprah gets good ratings and more money playing off the fears of her audience. So do all the other talk shows and newscasts. We have a national obsession with how bad it can get. TV drama that continues to explore the dregs of how evil people can be, movies that have to shock more and more with how disgusting the serial killer is, and the media jumps on any bandwagon they can. There is a kind of sick fascination with other people’s misery...talking about the latest “horrible thing that happened”.
All of this, of course. leads us to justify a society that moves farther and farther away from each other. Gated communities, vigilantes at the border, a neighborhood protesting a homeless shelter, a city shutting down a recovery house or a church wondering about men that “look bad” being around the property all come from this fear that you just never know...
Well, of course you never know. I’m not advocating we stop being wise but the beginning of wisdom is the fear of God, not our neighbor...and God says to love your neighbor as yourself. He also has a lot to say about welcoming a stranger into your home. welcoming the foreigner into your country and being good and fair to the poor in your community.
I’m not advocating that we pretend everything is sunny and nice either. Of course the world is messed up! What I’m talking about is our something nigh upon enjoying the horror. We can’t just hear that there was a shooting in the park, we have to see the blood on the concrete and the arm of the deceased sticking out from under the blanket. The camera is right in the face of a desperate, crying mother. How far will they go? As far as we keep asking them to go.
So let’s stop asking.