Here’s Reality

Blog_PortalOfSorrow_SenegalReality shows have risen in popularity since they hit the airwaves years ago. Now it seems there’s a reality show for everything under the sun, from singing to cooking, to singing while cooking, to underwater basket weaving. We’ve become obsessed with watching people rise and fall, get promoted and eliminated, excel and fail. All while we sit in a recliner with a bowl of popcorn and a universal remote.

People’s successes entertain us as much as their sufferings, to the point we’ve become desensitized to what’s real and what’s not. Some shows are so obviously scripted it’s comical, while others aren’t so easy to dissect. As long as we’re entertained, we don’t mind if it’s fake.

But here’s a reality that’s not glamorous. There are an estimated 29.8 million slaves in this world, today, with $150 billion made each year from forced labor. Scary thing is, this is likely a low estimate. It’s really not possible to accurately document the number of slaves and the income their work generates due to the criminal nature of harboring slaves.

You’re not gonna find a reality show about this, unless it’s an undercover report. But it’s happening every day, in our own towns, to our own children. It’s the kind of suffering we don’t want to become desensitized to, and yet the statistics beg the question: who are the consumers? If billions are made on modern slave trade, just how desensitized are we as a society?

It’s one thing to watch with a callous heart as our least favorite contestant gets eliminated from our favorite program. It’s another thing for our hearts to remain callous when we hear very real statistics about very real people in the midst of very real suffering. If we don’t like the outcome of the latest cooking contest, we can easily flip the channel. But modern slavery stares us in our face, begging a response—seeking to re-sensitize our hearts to the cry for justice. We can’t change the channel on that.


Photo Credit: File:Portal of sorrow-senegal-01.jpg – Wikimedia Commons



Resolved. This year. To spend more time living in the real world than in the screen-sized world. To spend more time in relationship with the real people in my real life than with strangers in the media life. And to think for myself, free from the dictates of modern media and social trends.


Photo Credit: 2 Person Walking on Snowfield during Daytime · Free Stock Photo

Living in the Real World

blog_umbrellasI have an important question to ask you. It’s one that I’ve asked myself often, and with increasing measure as I move forward in age and life. Are you really thinking for yourself?

We live in an age where the media tells us to do this very thing. Think for yourself! Be your own person! Be unique! Yet this message comes coupled with the reality that our minds are not our own unless we’re willing to fight for them. For something that seeks to command our attention each waking moment also threatens to consume our minds.

Yes, the media tells us to think for ourselves all the while telling us what to think. It tells us to be our own person while dictating how we should act, dress, and respond. It tells us to be unique while insisting that if we are not in line with it’s values, we’ll face verbal persecution if not worse.

It saddens me when I go to family get-togethers and social gatherings only to observe this: all of us on our media devices, disconnected from the real world around us. We’re attached to our screens 24/7 minus the hours we sleep, and sometimes we don’t even sleep because the screen calls us from physical slumber.

But there’s a different kind of slumber I want to wake up from this year. It’s a screen-driven slumber. Though I’m thankful for all the friendships I’m able to maintain and all the family I’m able to stay connected with thanks to the gift of social media, I’m tired of being lulled to sleep by the light of a screen. And though there is good that can come from screen-time: inspirational quotes, blog posts, and programs, I want to free my mind from the excess baggage that comes along with modern technology.

Resolved. This year. To spend more time living in the real world than in the screen-sized world. To spend more time in relationship with the real people in my real life than with strangers in the media life. And to think for myself, free from the dictates of modern media and social trends.


Photo Credit: Free stock photo of colourful, umbrella

The View, The Scorch, and a Zombie Apocalypse

Blog_TVControlRoomHave you ever wondered what it would be like to be a victim of a zombie apocalypse? Me neither, though yet another movie has emerged to depict the potential outcome of such a catastrophe. Which has me thinking. We’re not so different from these would-be victims.

Though much of our world is now wireless, how much of our days are spent connected by invisible wires to a monitor of some sort? The TV screen, the computer monitor, our cell phone display. And though we’re told by the talking heads on such monitors to think for ourselves, they’re doing an awful lot of the thinking for us. “Be original, be yourself, be unique!” they cry as the silent warning sounds that if we so much as diverge from their status quo, we will be verbally persecuted, if not worse.

A recent and now-notorious episode of The View serves as example. Nurses around the world were rightly outraged when their selfless profession was casually mocked by the talking heads on this opinion-driven platform, triggering the hashtag #nursesunite. No matter if the initial comments were a weak attempt at humor. It took this obvious untruth spoken across the airwaves to wake would-be fans to what has been reality for as long as the first TV antennas went up: not everything we hear from rich and famous self-proclaimed life-experts is…true.

We’ve lived so long in a media-induced stupor that we don’t realize how far we’ve drifted from reality until some clearly misguided statement wakes us from our near-comatose state. How long prior to #nursesunite were the screen-bound personas of The View and shows like it speaking untruths, half-truths, misguided words and emotion-driven opinions without a public outcry as the outcome? How much of our own worldview is so influenced by the media that we can’t even separate truth from opinion…from blatant lie?

#Nursesunite is not just a hashtag. It’s a wake-up call, reminding us that the people on TV are just…people. They are not gods. They are not life-experts. And we don’t owe our lives, or our brains, to them. As much as the world of monitors has become our world, we need to detach ourselves from the wireless wires and finally…think for ourselves.



In light of current events, we need to consider what side we’re on…the side of love, or the side of hate. Either way, we’re leaving a legacy. What kind of legacy do you want to leave?

A Deeper Hunger

Harvest from Bing Images Katniss Everdeen and Anastasia Steele: two different stories, two contrasting journeys. Both are hungry. For one, this hunger leads to heroism, for the other, to the arms of a sadistic villain.

Though both stories portray a culture of brutal violence, there are glaring differences between the themes of the Hunger Games and 50 Shades. Katniss—the heroine of the Hunger Games, recognizes this culture of brutality as wrong, not succumbing to its pervasive evil. Instead, she hungers for something better. Her undying loyalty to her sister grows into a sacrificial love for her people. She will not bow to President Snow. And she will give her life to defend her people from his malicious plans.

In stark contrast to the Hunger Games, 50 Shades celebrates the culture of brutality, painting a deceptive picture that a person can fall into the arms of unabashed violence and emerged unscathed. The story attempts to normalize what is a nightmarish reality for millions of human trafficking victims across the globe.

Katniss’ hunger is driven by a love for her people. This love leads her to become a symbol of courage, saving her generation from pervasive evil whatever the cost. Anastasia’s insecurity leads her to find fulfillment in torturous, manipulative lust, and in so doing she leads a generation into the same deception that has entrapped untold numbers in abusive relationships, modern slavery, and the grave itself.

Mother Teresa once said, “The hunger for love is much more difficult to remove than the hunger for bread.” How we go about satiating our deepest hunger will, in the end, determine whether we are filled or left empty. A hunger driven by selfishness will lead to pain; a hunger driven by selflessness will lead to life.

True love hungers for goodness. It hungers to protect itself and those it loves from the entrapments of deception and abuse, and to free others from lies, manipulation, and violence. The greatest hero of all time had such a hunger. He died on a cross so we could be free from the penalty and power of depravity. He died that we can live in a love that brings life, not suffering and death. God, change our appetites! Let us hunger for what is good. And let this hunger move us to act courageously to protect our generation, and future generations, from that which would seek to destroy.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6)

True Love…HUNGERS (Day 11, #50ShadesOfTrueLove)

Sincere Love vs. Hijacked Faith

Book of Love from Google Images Have you ever gotten fake likes on social media? The ones where someone “likes” your blog post, but when you check the stats you can tell they never read it? Or those “follows” on Twitter from someone promoting their business, CD, or book that go away if you don’t instantly follow back? Or the ones who add you on certain site to boost their own numbers—not because they’re interested in what you have to say? Yeah, it annoys me, too.

Just as there are fake followers on social media, there are insincere followers of the Christian faith. The Bible says that love must be sincere. Unfortunately, there are those who twist the faith for selfish purposes.

From what I’ve heard of the main speech at the National Prayer Breakfast, I agree on this one point…we should never seek to hijack religion for our own personal or political gain. And if we are honest about history, it’s happened in every faith. We need to admit that there are counterfeits of Christianity out there, and these counterfeits have twisted what was meant to be good into a man-made farce. The problem comes in thinking that because counterfeits exist, all must be counterfeit. In truth, having a counterfeit means the real thing’s got to be out there, we just have to take a closer look.

Jesus himself spoke of separating the sheep from the goats. They may look similar from the outside, but at closer glance there are differences. I doubt Jesus meant to pick on the goats, but in a symbolic measure they represent the bad guys—those who claim to follow Christ yet live in selfish ignorance. The sheep are the good guys, representing those who live what they believe in lives of sincere, sacrificial love.

Obviously, those in history who used scripture to justify slavery were the goats of the pack. They were as the evil, hypocritical Pharisees Jesus himself condemned in his day. Yet we must remember that multitudes of escaped slaves and abolitionists were people of a strong, true, and sincere faith (think Frederick Douglass, Harriett Tubman, William Lloyd Garrison, Harriet Beecher Stowe, William and Ellen Craft, Josiah Henson, and Henry “Box” Brown, to name a few). Their Christian faith persevered through great suffering and drove them to fight impossible odds for the freedom of all slaves. They were the real deal.

The end argument is that faith must be sincere, and is evidenced by love in action. Jesus himself admitted there were those who hijacked religion, so why can’t we? The existence of faith-hijackers is evidence there’s something real out there and we need to find it.

I think of how Jesus refused the opportunity to become an earthly king—knowing that loving self-sacrifice, even death on a cross was his calling. So if I’m going to look at what Christianity is all about, I’m not going to look at the hijackers. I’m gonna look at the one whose love was so sincere he was willing to die for the sins of the world.

We may not agree with all that was spoken at the prayer breakfast, but at least this whole thing brings to light that there are sheep and there are goats—counterfeits, and the real thing. As for me, I want to be counted among the sheep. I want my faith to be genuine, and my love to be sincere.

“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil, cling to what is good.” (Romans 12:9)

True Love is…SINCERE (Day 7, #50ShadesOfTrueLove)