I’ve commented recently on the need to surround ourselves with beauty. This involves ingesting good material. It also involves not reading superficial and silly material. Turning a page, we find, makes all the difference.
This is a challenging exchange, I must say. Bethany and I subscribe to World magazine. This means that when I pick up World, I automatically laud myself for reading a thoughtful magazine instead of a trashy rag. However, if I’m honest, I de-laud myself for skipping directly to the articles on entertainment and culture. Now, such articles are not wrong by any stretch. I like culture, entertainment can be fun, and World provides a sound perspective from which to think about the two. However, I find that I tend to skip right over important articles on world affairs and other (regrettably and shamefully) boring pieces.
So last night I shamed myself into leaving the reviews and going back to the cover article from this week’s issue, which is on modern-day slavery. I came away from the article horrified by what I read. How easy it is for me, a comfortable American living happily in ease and education, to suppose that everyone else lives just like me. How false this is. I suspect that this is one of the primary effects of a mindless, entertainment-saturated culture: we fail to see what is truly important in the world. Focusing on which starlet is entering rehab, we forget the Dalits, the Untouchables of India. Interested in entertaining ourselves, we check up on movie reviews, and skip merrily past the section on child trafficking. We do so forgetting that we are stewards of our eyes. We are not forced to be entertained by culture. We allow it to entertain us.
Entertainment and amusement are not bad things. But they should be moderated. They should not keep us from seeing the brutal realities of this world. Is that not a key scheme of this present darkness, to trick us into thinking the world is a merry, silly, amusement-drenched place? I think it is. Perhaps we will not ourselves free the Dalits, or end child trafficking, but we can tear ourselves away from mindlessness. We can give ourselves even the briefest chance to see anew the sad state of our world. In an age when “news” equals “silliness,” that is no small thing. Perhaps change will come simply by the turn of a page.