Archive for December, 2012

Desensitization

Sunday, December 30th, 2012

Anyone who knows me, knows how I feel about violence in popular culture.  I am extremely aware of how prevalent it has become in movies and video games, even those that are marketed to children.  I believe that desensitization to such violence is one of the major issues with our culture today.  Avoiding this desensitization as much as possible is one of my largest challenges as a parent to three small boys.  Our children do not play video games, and we avoid the vast majority of television and movies.

Jeff and I take our jobs as parents seriously and strive to raise Godly men.  As much as we are carefully selecting what our children encounter and learn, we are continually amazed with how much they teach us, especially about human nature and our own short comings.

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During the month of December, we have an advent calendar that lists a Christmas related activity for the boys to do daily.  This year, one of the activities was to select livestock from the World Vision catalogue to send to a family in need.  The boys had been hearing about www.chickensandgoats.com on the radio station, and though this was not the exact same thing, it is similar.  Jeff told the boys how it worked, and we watched a video on World Visions website showing how we could pay for chickens, goats, ducks, cows, etc. and the animals would then be sent to a needy family in another part of the world.  The family could then use the animals for food and income.  We thought that in doing this activity with the kids, we would teach them about not only wanting things for ourselves at Christmas but thinking of others, including people we don’t know.

We chose our animals, and Jeff paid for it online using our credit card.  Rather than seeming proud and content to have helped another family, Caleb was immediately frantically concerned.  He looked at us and said, “I have money in my piggy bank too.  We can use all my money to buy some more.”  Caleb probably has less than ten dollars in loose change in his piggy bank.  After talking to him, we learned that he was concerned that more families might not have enough money to eat and live, and our sweet, sensitive son wanted to use all his money to help them.

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Of course, our first reaction was to congratulate ourselves on having raised such a generous, caring boy.  We really are amazing Christian parents after all.  Right?  The more I thought about it though, the more I realized that his reaction is (or should be) the instinctual reaction to hearing that others desperately need help that we can easily give.  As we go through life though, we become desensitized to this need.  Especially during this time of year, we are made aware of others need continually.  When we check out at the grocery store, we are asked to donate money and food for needy families.  When we buy gifts are the department store, we are asked to donate to St. Jude Children’s Hospital to help kids with cancer.  When we stop at a red light, we are asked for money and food by local homeless people. When we get our mail, we are asked to donate money for holiday meals, needy children overseas, missionary families, and the local Salvation Army just to name a few.  All of these are very real needs.  Giving money (or food, time, items, ect.) to any of these causes would certainly make a difference.  Seeing Caleb’s reaction though, I realize just how desensitized I have become to the very real plight of all these people.  There is so much need around me, that much of the time I don’t really even consider all of it.  We give to our chosen causes and generally feel good about what we have done.

I am not sure what the real solution is here.  Clearly we cannot fix all of this individually.  For now, I guess my course is just to pray.  I will pray for God to show me where to help, and I will pray for God to help our entire fallen world.  I will also make an effort to notice and acknowledge all of these very real souls in need and not just pass them by as part of the “white noise” of life.