If you watch movies and TV with a somewhat questioning mind, you'll notice that many shows are about the ugly underbelly of our society. The bad behavior. The murder. The cheating and lying and stealing.
If aliens from another galaxy were to land in America today and watch 24 hours of the boob tube or a day's worth of DVDs, they'd think we thrived on those things.
It got me thinking: why do we really like to watch other people screw-up? Make mistakes? Fall flat on their faces?
I think the answer lies in what other people's mistakes do for US.
When I hear of that famous (or not so famous) preacher admitting to an affair, do I feel a bit smug? After all, I would never do that. In a million years.
When I see that someone ran down a young lady walking down the street because he had been drinking and didn't see her...well, I would always appoint a designated driver.
When I hear two people arguing on a TV show and saying ugly, mean-spirited, hateful things to one another? I feel just a bit superior. I don't do that.
Or, do I?
Sure, the affair thing is off the table. But, I'm not in a position of power, surrounded by people of the opposite sex, many of them emotionally needy, looking to me for their security.
No, I don't drink and drive in my 40's, nor did I in my 30's. But my teenage and early 20's years weren't the same story. There are times, I have to admit, that I am quite unclear about how I arrived at my destination. Not only was I blessed to be alive, but those in the path of the car that I was driving/riding in were, too.
Arguing. Well, if you read this blog enough, you'll know that I have a teensy problem called "yelling". I'm just fortunate that nobody is paying me to record my life for a TV show. Otherwise, I'd probably sinning on TV, within eyeshot of some housewife in backwoods South Dakota who would be all smug because I was getting all yelly at the kids and Mike.
Pick your poison. We all have faults. We all sin. We all fall short.
I have to consciously quit comparing myself to those who mess up to make myself feel superior. Instead, I have to look to God to forgive me for all the countless daily errors I make. Because comparing my sins to other's sins is just a losing proposition.
When I hear of a public official/celebrity falling short, I should be grateful that my life isn't in the public eye. That I can stumble through life making mistakes without every blunder being criticized. And I should say a little pray to God to help the person receiving all the media attention. After all, they'll receive the same loving grace as I receive, even though my mistakes aren't the subject of blog posts, Facebook updates, tweets, mini-series, feature films and magazine covers.
How about you? Have you ever stopped to consider the implication of other people's very public mistakes and how you respond?
Better yet, what about the impact on those who look to you as "the Christian" in their lives. This may be a co-worker, a relative, or your own children. Do they see you wrapped up in the ugly side of life on Earth or do they see you making an effort to avoid that type of jazz?
These are tough questions. And there are tough answers. But, if we are honest with ourselves, making the right choices not only seems to make sense, but it is good for us.
Best of luck wrestling with this one. I'm on the mat, too, trying to figure out how this whole thing works.