As of late, the power and influence of the television and the internet has been on my mind.
One of the more recent movies that I have seen was Good Night and Good Luck, a film based on the "Red Scare" of the 50s and the influence that Edward R. Murrow, a CBS television personality, had on bringing it to light in America. The film was just another billboard along the highway that's made me think about the power of media, or access to global information more precisely.
Towards the end of the flick, Murrow had this to say about the power of the television (while he not so subtly derided the increasing lean towards the tv's entertainment appeal rather than its other capabilities) :
"This instrument can teach, it can illuminate, and yes, it can even inspire. But it can do so only to the extent that humans are determined to use it towards those ends. Otherwise it is merely wires and lights and a box."
I think he was on to something. Of course nowadays we have a million and one channels to choose from, a third of which are news channels. And that's just the telly. We have the internet now, with the influence of the television not even holding a candle to its power.
But what do we do with all of this? We have the world at our fingertips.
As one who is trying to look at this through the lens of experiencing God's presence in the world, I think that the television and the internet are amazing tools. I wouldn't have this creative outlet without the internet, for pete's sake. But having these tools that illuminate the realities of the world (with certain biases for each media vehicle of course) lead us to a greater responsibility than any previous generation, in my opinion. "To him who has been given much, much is expected." We are not to turn a blind eye to the orphaned and the poor and the exploited and the peoples of the world who we now know have not yet experienced redemption of their lives through Jesus Christ. The fact that we are aware of the atrocities in the Darfur region, or the hungry in east Africa, or the persecution of Christians in North Korea, Eritrea or Colombia, or the AIDS-ridden southern Africa or the countless needs of the Hurrican Katrina victims cannot be ignored.
The one thing we cannot do is lose hope. Because we are exposed to so much suffering in this world, I hope we do not stop and say, "Well the need is just too big, I will only worry about what's going on around me." Don't get me wrong, I want to see the needs of those around me and we need to be watching for the needs right around us. But, let's not forget about "the ends of the earth," which we now are so much more aware of than the writers of the Holy Scriptures ever could have imagined.