Sunday, May 25, 2014

A Challenge


I would like to challenge each of you to do something. As we increase our exposure to technology, we are losing something incredibly valuable. So much of our contents is shaved down to bite sized morsels that we are losing our ability to sustain quiet, focused attention for significant periods of time. Theatre folk have been sensing this for a while now, as audiences have grown bored of sitting still for 2 hours of storytelling. But I think the problem is much, much worse. We are losing the benefit of public gathering altogether. Think about it. Today, I'm going to see Capt America, but movies are now all about bigger and louder ways to shock you...just to hold your attention. Music is more chaotic. Simple melodies are a thing of the past. And the news, wow! You've got 15 different sources of info on the screen, 3 ticker tapes...and it's not like you are watching it anyway. You've got the sound up, while you multi-task in another room.

I sat in church today and was sorely grieved because the pastor kept asking folks to hold still during the sermon. Why are people wandering around during service? Who knows! I doubt even they know! All sorts of beeps and chimes and tones echoed throughout the hall, and the people around me could not stop wiggling and squirming, fidgeting and playing with things. It's very very very sad. We are turning into a populace with the attention span of a toddler.

So here is my challenge. Counter your exposure to this blaring stimuli overexposure by choosing to adopt moments of quiet reflection into your day. Meditate. Just sit in quiet solitude. Check out an old edition of some classic novel from your local library and force yourself to read it. Magazines, newspapers, blogs, and even new books won't do. They are too full of visual stimuli. Old editions are best because the typeface will be different. Even if you sit alone in a room and listen (without visual) to classical music from historical composers. And prayer. Prayer is most effective because it causes you to wait on god and engage faith, focusing your attention on things that you cannot see or hear.

I hope to do this more in life myself. Because what I saw today was scary. If we embrace a stimuli driven world, without regard to discipline, self-control, maturity, reflection, or solace, we will turn into another Roman Empire...burning people upside down, feeding them to lions, boiling them alive in oil all for the entertainment of cheering spectators. We may already be only a step away.