Not so many years ago, life used to be quieter. That was before screens offered us countless numbers of channels, podcasts were created, and music and data came at us endlessly throughout the day and night (if we chose). We were increasingly drawn to more and more information bombarding us, often without an awareness of its source or the subtle messages in the content.
When life was quieter less than 100 years ago, news came to us from newspapers delivered to our homes and largely written by reporters and editors from our own hometown who reflected our community’s interests and values. Radios were the other source of shows and news that kept us in touch several times a day. Even when television entered the scene, many of us only had three channels we could receive through the antenna that sat on our roof. The signal came on in the morning about 7AM and went off later that evening about 11:30PM. After that only a white fuzzy image was visible. News still came only at certain times of the day and newspapers were still common.
Beyond that we were doing life. Those things were not overtaking our thoughts, emotions, and ideas. Our values were largely still those of our family and community. But technology and our thirst for more and more knowledge nudged us faster and faster into what we all consider commonplace today.
Maybe because it happened over time, we missed the power of all this information and entertainment bombarding us. All of it began to mix with the noise we already had in our head such as things we were taught by parents and teachers, things we learned from spiritual leaders and friends, wonderings about nearly anything and everything, beliefs we developed about ourselves and others, and more.
Now we had information sources of all that whom we didn’t know but began to accept almost as much as the local sources of persons we knew and trusted. We sometimes wondered about something that sounded “weird” but usually it was just a blip on the stream of information and we didn’t check on its accuracy or validity. We also didn’t notice that it was gradually beginning to influence us in small ways, reshaping some of our ideas, imaginings, and values.
Our thirst for knowledge became nearly insatiable and news cycles were available 24 hours a day heaping story upon story that slowly became more opinion laden than fact reported. And here we were all these centuries later showing the evidence of our relatives, Adam and Eve, who were tempted by the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil and succumbed to the temptation to become wise in their own eyes.
Yes, knowledge was and is important for so many obvious reasons but as we sought it more and more. Did it satisfy us or settle our hearts and minds? Or did it only increase our appetite, so we were gorging on it without much thought to how it tasted or what it was doing to us? Were we now in a fog where we were randomly listening to and watching nearly anything and everything?
Did we notice when our focus began to diminish, and we had difficulty focusing to read a book? Did we recognize we were now questioning things we had been so certain of before? Had our emotions been stirred to more pessimism, frustration, or dissatisfaction? Were we like that old story about the frog in the kettle on the stove who jumped in when the water was cool and failed to notice the temperature was rising until it overtook him, and he could not jump out again?
What would happen to how we are impacted daily if we remembered that whatever we take in (no matter how benign it may seem) impacts us?
That makes the truth of the sources important to know and often hard to find out, but perhaps it means we are not wise to digest things from a smorgasbord of sources for the sake of knowledge. It may be wiser as it is with the diets we eat to choose carefully and “eat” less than we might be tempted in order to be healthier and reduce the noise of our external world as well as internal world. That might allow us to get more in touch with who we really are beyond those who would try to define us, or stereotype us.
There have always been those nudging us to go this way or that, but never have so many voices and sources been pushing us to go left or right, down side trails that lead us on paths we do not know. The confusion and doubt they can create are snares we ought to guard against. The Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth wise words for us:
“The world is unprincipled. It’s dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn’t fight fair. But we don’t live or fight our battles that way—never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren’t for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity.”2 Corinthians 10:3-6 (MSG)