We Americans have much in common and much tearing us apart. This is certainly nothing new.
What is new is 24/7 cable and internet news. The all-seeing eyes traumatize us, bringing every senseless tragedy—no matter how far away—into our consciousness. Yet the technologies that traumatize, oddly enough, also desensitize.
Furthermore, I doubt we’ve ever been more connected and isolated. What paradoxical times these are! Remember Charles Dickens?
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness . . . we had everything before us, we had nothing before us . . .
As the folksy “philosopher” Yogi Berra once quipped, “The more things change the more they stay the same.”
Speaking of paradoxes…the news that informs is the news that misinforms.
(This reminds me of a quote from Mark Twain something to the effect: “If you don’t read the newspapers you are uninformed. If you do read them you are misinformed.”)
One ill-effect of ratings-mad, entertainment-driven news is that it focuses on the dramatic and spectacular, ignoring the everyday and mundane. As a result, our perspectives, insofar as they are shaped by media, can become distorted.
For example, would it surprise you to learn that less than 12% of police officers fire their guns at another human being for the duration of their entire career?1 In fact, 95% of NYC police “have never fired their weapons while fighting crime.”2
Thus when it comes to shooting folks it seems our cops are less Dirty Harry and more Sherriff Andy. But you wouldn’t know this from watching the news.
Now don’t get me wrong. I watch and read plenty of news. But when it comes to race issues and the things which make for our peace, I don’t think the media, by and large, is fighting on the side of the angels.
Racial harmony won’t come from more news, but from good news.
I believe the reconciliation we long for can only be found in Jesus Christ. God on the Cross offers the repentance and the forgiveness, the hope and the healing, that all of us so desperately need. God on the Cross collectivizes and dehumanizes no one. Rather, He sacrificially loves every man, woman, and child as the image of God.
He’s shown the Way. It may not be easy, but let’s walk in it.