Looking At Life Through A Straw…It Sucks!

Ten years ago I had my first stroke. I lost almost all vision. It was like trying to see everything using a straw. My peripheral vision wasn’t just blurry – it was completely gone — left, right, up and down. I had no depth perception and could only walk slowly with help. I mentioned to a friend that my vision was like looking at life through a straw, and he said, “That sucks!” I appreciated the pun, then and now.

Fortunately, over time, my eyesight fully returned, but frequently I reflect on how limited my life would have been, and how much of life I would have missed that was going on right around me.

Yesterday I had a “life through the straw” experience. I had two different meetings. This was not planned, but the first group ended up being people that watch Fox News almost exclusively, and the later meeting ironically was a group of CNN fans.

My day was a bit like a modern-day Twilight Zone episode as these two groups seem to be living in parallel universes. Of the eight people I met with there were 16 college degrees (BA, BS, MA, MEd, MDIv, and PhD) among them. These are not stupid or uninformed people. They are leaders in business, education, nonprofits and ministry. They are all Christians who pray, worship and read their Bibles. Yet it was as if they wholly “drank the Kool-Aid” of their respective news outlets.

One group spoke about Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity as if they were President Trump’s most important advisors, and with a reverence as if they were the 2nd and 3rd coming of Jesus Christ. The other group held similar respect and reverence for CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Chris Cuomo. If you’ve been in these situations, you know it can be a bit like an out-of-body experience where conversations can quickly turn into stress-filled, intense situations…or it can be wildly interesting and fun, depending on your perspective.

So here’s my “viewing life through a straw” perspective for all you Tender Lions. Remember that CNN, Fox News, and almost all of the other news outlets primary purpose is not to resurrect the spirit and sensitivity of Walter Cronkite. It is to produce healthy profits for their stockholders, and a close second priority is to protect and promote a worldview (conservative or liberal, or some other ideology – race, gender or religious bias, etc.) with which you may or may not agree.

Only viewing one point of view and putting all of your stock in that is a bit like looking at life through a straw. Or perhaps having a prism and only looking at it from one direction. Your perspective just might cause you to miss all of the beauty, splendor and potential of life right around you.

So my advice to all of you Tender Lions is to realize that the media is not intended to make you smart, caring and well-rounded. It’s intended to promote, protect a worldview and motivate you to advocate for “their team.”

Looking at life through a straw, as much of our society does, only generates the illusion of safety and wisdom, and actually is making us, all of us, dumber…emotionally weak, less able to be empathetic, less willing and able to withstand conflict, appreciate differences, and love and care for our neighbors.

Jesus said, when asked about the greatest of all commandments, “To love the Lord your God with all heart, soul, mind and strength.” And then he added, “And the second is just as important, to love your neighbor as yourself.” Powerful advice whether you’re religious or not.

Who is your neighbor…and how do you love them? I’d suggest that you throw away your “straw.” Do all you can to develop a sense of discernment for what you take in, and a sense of love and compassion for those who don’t look, act, think and believe like you. Imago Dei.

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Many of these blog entries are edited excerpts from Tender Lions: Building the Vital Relationship Between Father and Son

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