Faithful Living

"I am not completely sure what possessed me Wednesday night, but I wrestled the TV remote away from my clan and joined the tribe of 30-40 million Americans to take in the last moments of CBS’s mega-hit, “Survivor.”Actually, I do know why I allowed myself to be suckered into watching: I had little energy to do much else but sit on my couch and surrender to all the hype that had, at the very last moment, tickled my interest. And even though I had not watched any of the episodes and was not familiar with the characters, I figured I could idly take in the drama and still get something accomplished. So I did just that. I finished up some household paperwork and watched the crafty and frequently naked Richard haul in his cool million.Do we let it all stop here? I do not believe we should, for the picture broadens and the lessons to be learned — or least considered — are there for the taking.Perhaps the first question to ask is why millions of Americans resemble lemmings when it comes to reality TV? In an interesting article titled, “Do you love reality-based TV?” Dr. Robin Goodman, a professor of psychology at New York University, points out that reality-based television appeals to people on many levels. We like watching to see if common folk will react to contrived circumstances in extraordinary ways. We like to see boundaries loosened and hope to catch a glimpse of the forbidden. We like the idea of easy money and find it appealing to take sides, rooting for the underdog because we all long for “justice.”And because technology is expanding our sense of community, there is strange comfort in the concept of global humiliation. It does not bother many of us to watch human suffering and apparent failure as it seems to salve our private hurts. We lower others to our levels.It also seems we are fascinated by group dynamics, so we lean on every gesture and innuendo, privately identifying and assessing those who choose to act as leaders, outcasts, negotiators, or saviors.When our own lives feel monotonous and frustrating, we resort to TV voyeurism for quick relief rather using that time to assess our circumstances and strategize our solutions. We choose to watch Susan, the truck driver, ream Kelly, the river rafting guide, informing her during that memorable final statement that if she found Kelly dying at the side of a road she would let the vultures clean her bones rather than come to her aid.Why do we resist the option to reach higher, work harder, and strive to live with more integrity? It’s sacrificial, that’s why. It’s easier to be mean than noble.So was it a complete waste of time to watch the last episode of “Survivor” this week? I do not believe it was, because the average person will still be talking about Sue’s venom days from now and what is the point of living in the world if we cannot offer people the whole picture? For there is, you know, much more to this story.A quick surf onto the Internet reveals some astounding facts. Gervase, the attractive 30-year-old basketball coach who many thought would be counted among the final four contestants, became a father for the fourth time while island-bound. He has coupled with two women and never married either one. His children are growing up without observing the beauty and safety of lifetime commitment and marital fidelity.Kelly, the $100,000 second-place finisher, is divorced and living with her current honey, even though she apparently bit him during a skirmish in Las Vegas, narrowly avoiding a domestic violence arrest. And she had better avoid North Carolina state lines: there is an outstanding warrant for her arrest involving a stolen credit card.Jenna, the divorced mother of twin girls ousted weeks ago, may pose for Playboy. After all, that reported $600,000 offer would effortlessly send her girls to college and boost her new acting career.And there is Richard — the big winner. Two days after returning home this conflict management specialist was arrested and charged with abusing his adopted 9-year-old son. Legal proceedings are pending.May we who know better stand in the gap and tell the real story. May we offer balance to children, in particular, who will want to talk about the outcomes and long to understand why fame and poor behavior are celebrated and rewarded.There is a better way and it is faith-filled.----------------Joan Bay Klope is a freelance writer and former editor of Christian books published by Gospel Light Publications. She can be reached at "

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