Growing up, it was hard to get away with much because when I was out from under my parent’s watchful eyes the neighbors were keeping an eye on me. I knew if my folks weren’t home, I could go to a nearby neighbor’s house and find a warm, welcome, safe place. We played EVERYWHERE, including the front yard. My friends and I kept an eye out for each other and parents watched out for the kids on their street. There was less isolation. You felt you were part of something. You felt like you belonged. I believe that in our ever-increasing celebrity obsessed society we need to see a return to this sense of community.
Community teaches us how to love and respect each other. Through community we learn how to share and how to appreciate each others differences. Community helps us celebrate our victories and overcome our shared tragedies. Community lessens the opportunity for someone to hide in the shadows waiting to do harm by lessening the desire to do so to begin with.
Community brings us together.
Today, we are bombarding kids with the lie that in order for their life to matter and have meaning they need to be famous–regardless of how they come about their notoriety. A lot of them feel it is the only way out; the only way to have the American Dream. Others–struggling with their self-identity–find a need to lash out to get noticed. At the end of the day, our choices can’t be “being Kardashian” or being a crazed lone gunman. What an awful place to be in to find your self-worth.
All life has value. Each life matters. You matter. You have worth. You have value. Don’t let anyone tell you any different. You’re not a mistake. You’re not a failure. You’re a human being on the way to becoming who you are meant to be. Maybe you are blessed with great talent and skill. Maybe you’re not sure what your talents or skills are. There is a lot yet to discover on the road of life.
Too often, celebrity has come to mean “I matter more than you.”
When we place greater value on fame and fortune than simply loving our neighbor, our society will continue to be the loser, paying the tragic price we have already paid in spades, and left wondering why and how someone could be so desperate to be known that they resort to mass violence, disrupting our lives with bombings, shootings, and other expressions of terror. If it’s not a gun, it’s a bomb. If that isn’t dramatic enough, we see these individuals screaming to be heard, resort to burning people alive or beheading children. I believe what drives one guy to join jihad and another person to walk on campus and commit an egregious act of violence is rooted in the same misguided values. They are so desperate to be heard that they no longer value life and are under the delusional belief that there is a great reward to be found in extinguishing the lives of others, in the process achieving celebrity and renown for themselves.
We have to figure out a way to take away the reward and formulate a practical deterrent to the mass-violence we are all sick and tired of seeing on the nightly news. The answer isn’t more regulation of activities by law-abiding citizens. We can’t respond by inconveniencing those who have done no wrong. We can not continue to allow ourselves to be divided. We’ve got to get back to basics and find the courage to teach the next generation about God, love and respect. We’ve got to return to modeling kindness and treating one another the way we want to be treated. We must return to rewarding doing the right thing and stop celebrating bad behavior. It is time we stop vilifying heroes and glorifying villans.
This starts in our own neighborhoods. It starts in our communities.
We have to build on a greater sense of community and lessen the focus on celebrity. Simply being famous for being famous isn’t a value. Being known for nothing isn’t an achievement. It is a symptom of a disease. We are not a world of individuals; rather, we are individuals living in a world, together.
You have value. We all matter.