Pastoral Reflection: The Media And Our Minds
“We should be careful, Thoreau once warned, “to treat our minds as innocent and ingenuous children whose guardians we are- and to be careful what objects and what subjects we thrust upon their attention…
Every thought that passes through the mind helps to wear and tear it… to deepen its ruts, which, as in the streets of Pompeii, evince how much it has been used. How many things there are concerning which [their content and impact upon us] we might well deliberate whether we had better known [or rejected] them.”
For some time now, there has been much made of how the media, and the freedom of speech and expression impacts the lives of children and adults. With Christmas now gone, and with big screen Televisions, computers, phones, etc., being the best sellers again this year, I expect that more needs to be said about the impact of the media during this last decade and into the foreseeable future.
There is no question about it- we live in a media saturated culture… In fact, we are now inventing or discovering new problems that were absent only 20 years ago… Like carpal tunnel problems from texting excessively, or video game addiction… Some other troubling examples of the overwhelming energy and influence would include: hate radio, lack of enough children’s TV programming vs. violent video games, the availability of bomb construction via the Internet, the lack of civility in culture, and the coarseness of everyday advertising and language. These and other issues ask us to examine and evaluate just what kinds of communication are best to encourage or what kinds of language, ideas, and expression can best serve to create our necessary social dialogue and the direction of our national moral compass that best guides us towards a just and compassionate society.
I believe that Thoreau would weigh into this discussion on the side of prudence and recommend or favor dialog that inspires, not that demeans human dignity and self-worth. He states, “As you see, so at length, will you say.”
Do our perceptions dictate our reality? If so, what are we feeding to one another that encourages virtue and values, altruism, idealism, and the willingness “to love your neighbor as yourself?” While the freedoms to say and do are vitally important, I am asking out loud whether or not this generation has confused the implied responsibilities for those freedoms with the opportunities for amoral license and being naive about the consequences? Ask yourself to ponder this question, and reflect on Thoreau’s words for us today.
“We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aids but by an infinite expectation of the dawn, which does not forsake us in our soundest sleep. I know of no more
encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor. It is something to be to paint a particular picture, or to carve a statue, and so to make a few objects beautiful, but it is more glorious to carve and paint the very atmosphere and medium through which we look, which we morally can do. To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.”