“Actions are not impostions on who we are, but are expressions of who we are. They come out of our heart and the inner realities it supervises and interacts with.”
Yesterday the internet and social media blew up again. This time, I got into the middle of it by writing a post about seeing the difference between arrogance and confidence. No doubt the firestorm that Cam Newton found himself in the middle of yesterday was an over-reaction of the American public either for or against him.
My observations yesterday were based on limited exposure to Cam Newton. I watch football, but I’m not a Carolina Panther fan. I’ve seen Cam play football before, and yes, he is an impressive quarterback. It’s funny (and at the same time sad) to me how wrapped up in responding to a train-wreck people in this country can be. So much attention was given to Cam Newton yesterday (which I would argue is partly attention he wanted), that the winners of the Super Bowl, the Denver Broncos, didn’t get much attention at all.
Again, I’m not hopping on the “bash Cam Newton” bandwagon, but had he reacted differently, the social media firestorm that ensued probably wouldn’t have happened. And the spotlight could have been placed where those who deserved it could have stood in its warmth.
And so I learned some more things about our American Culture that I thought I’d share today. These observations are simply observations. They are not absolutes, everyone doesn’t do this all of the time. , but maybe these thoughts will provoke some more thought about how we are perceived by the rest of the world and how we can change.
- American Culture loves to worship our heroes. Idol worship is readily accepted everywhere in America. From professional athletes to presidents, from actors to musicians, we love our heroes. Is it any wonder that when one of them slips up, we are either quick to hang them out to dry or to rush to their defense? We have a serious problem with idol worship here. We even have a show on TV called “American Idol” where we look and listen for the next person we can all fall down and worship. We even get to vote for them.
- American Culture really thinks that truth is a matter of opinion. When everybody has a voice in a social media society, nobody really gets to listen. We have these outlets from which to stand and say what we want without any push-back, dialogue, or discussion. If someone disagrees with us, we can simply unfriend them, delete the feed, and start over. It’s the easiest and most deceptive form of relationship that isn’t actually relationship at all! We can shout at each other from our picket lines, digging firmly into our stances on Cam Newton, or politics, or the latest social tragedy, all the while alienating people who might actually get closer to us.
- American Culture likes to flip their heroes into proponents for their cause. If we are semi-religious, we love it when our heroes make mention of God or “the man upstairs” because it makes us feel like they are one of us. If we aren’t religious at all, we look for heroes who say things anti-religious so we can feel like they are one of us as well. Because we are so caught up in our celebrity culture worship, we have no problem fashioning our idols in our own image. What Christian doesn’t like to hear Peyton Manning mention God in his post game comments or see that Chris Pratt writes Bible verses on his twitter feed sometimes? What gay or lesbian person doesn’t like to see Ellen DeGeneres as the number one talk show for years in a row. There is always a sense in which we look to our gods and want them to be just like one of us. We may not call them that, but that is exactly what we have made them.
- American Culture celebrates above all else the entertainment world.
Look at the magazine racks in the local grocery store. Listen to what is most popular on the radio. Watch TV for 5 minutes, and you will realize how much the entertainment world influences American Culture. Don’t get me wrong here, I love good music. I am a movie watcher, a sports fan, a music listener, and a Netflix binge watcher of popular tv shows. I am very much a part of this culture that surrounds me. And my observation is that, within this culture, it can be difficult to step out of it long enough to get perspective, wisdom, and insight into the life that I’m supposed to be living rather than the one that American Culture defines for me. Like the proverbial Pied Piper, American Culture is playing a tune. Its a particularly catchy tune. But where is it leading us? Where is the Pied Piper taking us? How far from the cliff do we have to be before we wake up and see the reality that we’ve created for ourselves?
As I get older, I realize how much American culture sucks everyone into its vacuum. I’ve probably painted it only in a negative way here today. That’s not my intent. There are many redeeming aspects of American Culture. We have a genuine recognition of the poor and hurting in our midst. Despite our distraction from the noise of our culture, we are all still very human, still very needy, and still very much in need of rescue.
That is why I write on this blog. It’s easy to stand on the sideline and critique people for their behavior without offering a solution to the heart of the problem, which is the problem of the heart.
In the coming days, I’m going to be writing about how to find your heart again in the midst of a noisy culture that constantly pulls our attention away from the things that really matter.
I hope you’ll join me in the conversation.
And give the Broncos a few months to celebrate their Super Bowl win.