Reality Shows

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

Beyond the Public Eye

Blog_EmptyStageThere was a time when it was okay to be unknown. People sang in the shower without aspiring to idol status. Gifted writers were content when their words served to encourage their friends and loved ones. Iron chefs cooked for the love of food and family.

Now everything’s a competition. A good voice isn’t enough unless it’s discovered. The written word seems worthless if not hailed by the masses. There’s even cooking shows that turn the kitchen into a stage and the well-cooked meal into a shot at stardom.

What drives us to push our talents and abilities into the public eye? Why are we so discontent with obscurity?

Maybe we’re longing for significance—believing it can only be found in worldwide recognition. If the world knows we’re gifted, we’re assured of our existence. We feel validated only when acknowledged by others. Add impatience to the mix. We want immediate gratification from our efforts—likes and shares, comments and accolades.

It’s interesting to note that some of the most enduring works of art were created in obscurity. Many now-famous writers, artists, and composers weren’t recognized for their work until they passed on from this life. Would we of this fame-famished generation be content to know our greatest works will benefit those powerless to build our present-day ego?

I’d rather have my work outlive me for the benefit of a generation I’ll never see than for it merely to endure a short-lived hype. Serving in obscurity ensures sincerity. If I’m using my talent only for immediate recognition, hypocrisy is likely to steal the stage—my works governed by the feeble and fleeting opinions of man. It’s better to flourish in obscurity than to waste away in the toxic waters of fame.