We’ve been watching a bit of TV during social isolation, and more than a bit.

We’ve seen some fun stuff, but in our shows we have also happened on a lot of rough, dark stuff. Many shows are based on or include abuse, violence and suffering. Murder fuels a lot of TV.

Last night the last show we watched was a murder mystery. As the show unfolded we found a coach sexually abusing his players. The plot included an extended boxing match where two young men pounded each other’s heads. We fast forwarded through the fight. I personally don’t like watching people hitting other people in the face until one of them is knocked out.

Is this soft? I think it’s sane. Watch what you want, but keep real life in mind. What makes good TV ruins real people’s lives. Concussions cause brain damage.

In 2020, the world suffers — and at this same time as I suffer my own chronic pain — perhaps I and we have an opportunity to change. Perhaps we might find our capacity for tolerating suffering diminished.

My growing awareness of how much some people or groups of people are harmed challenges me to want to stop such damage in our world. I want to protect and secure people’s safety.

What can I do in that direction? What can all of us do?

We can grieve. Once in a board meeting, as we dealt with a issue involving hurt and loss, one of the board members began to cry. Then she said, “I’m sorry to cry.”

I turned to her and said, “Yours is the most appropriate response.”

What but tears? Tears are the highest form of empathy and the highest form of judgment. As we mature we have the potential to grieve the world’s losses.

What else? We can get angry. Anger toward wrong doing is the appropriate reaction. Anger is motivating. Anger under control, that takes action, is the fuel of reform. I just read a biography of Frederick Douglass. When he got angry he got eloquent and he went to work to abolish slavery. We can use our anger to motivate us to fund and volunteer for organizations working for social change and justice.

We can take political action. We can elect those who are peacemakers and protectors and those who unite people rather than dividing them. We can not elect those who create an “us” and “them” culture. That sets the stage for violence.

And we can elect the oppressed. That’s hugely necessary. They are the ones who have authentic voices that need to be heard for systems that traffic in sanctioned violence to be reformed. Violence and oppression is often systemic. It is built into the very machine of society and of government. To end it will take a willingness to give the very people who are harmed and oppressed power, women, racial minorities, the disabled, people of different religious orientations or sexual orientations.

The majority, the privileged, must empower the minority for the safety and well being of all. In John Steinbeck’s novel The Moon Is Down, he asserts that an oppressed people will resist. And rightly so. How do we deal with that? Oppress them more? No, we wisely deal with that by ceasing to oppress them, by empowering them. That safeties all of us.

Lastly, we ourselves must not engage in violence. In our homes we must refuse to dominate and oppress our families. It would be easy to think that we don’t do that. But criticalness and judgment is often at the very core of family relationships. I know my own criticalness has caused harm in my own family, and I myself need to turn away from any behaviors or verbal expressions that don’t honor the other members.

TV has had our attention. What do we do now as society opens back up? Perhaps we go to work creating a world that inspires some better TV.

  1. Beth L Eldridge says:

    These are great words. Thank you. But… What of the people in the middle? The ones who in between the “haves” and the “have nots”? I like to call them (me) the worker bees? I think we can give the smiles, the compassion, and understanding. Hopefully that’ll be enough for now.

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