Turn it off, please. Friends, on this day when the media coverage of the manhunt in Boston is at its most frenetic, turn it off, please. I don’t mean check out, be uninterested or disengaged, just turn it off. You can’t help by watching, but you can help by praying.
I’ve noticed that on days like this in the news, it is ever so hard to avert our eyes. But what are our eyes beholding? What are our ears tuning into? What does the media really have to report? I greatly appreciate what Steve Inskeep from NPR said today. “We are collecting a lot of dots today, but are not able to connect them yet.” So why keep talking? Because radio cannot have dead air time and tv must have flashing lights and scrolling non-messages just to keep us hanging.
I understand that their job is to bring us news, and that they cannot very well move on to another story when a major city like Boston is in lockdown and the news of capture or arrest of the bombing suspect may happen at any moment, but my life will not change if I do not know the instant that happens. I will find out. My interest will be satisfied, and I won’t be subjected to the steady stream of speculation and non-information designed just to keep me hanging. Moreover, by the time I do get the news, perhaps, just perhaps, some of those dots may be connected and there may be a real story emerging.
More than anything, on days like these, I am disturbed by what the media frenzy does to me. It is like a caffeine high that keeps me buzzing for a while but eventually makes me crash with a terrible headache. What happens to my soul is even more distressing. My sorrow at the loss on Monday turns into fear, which ferments into an anger that yearns for justice until it verges into a thirst for vengeance. The media frenzy feeds my corrupted human heart making me want to see that bastard dead.
So I’ve turned it off, for now. I will check back in later this afternoon for a quick update. If there is no real news, I’ll leave it until later still, or perhaps tomorrow morning. I want to know. I am interested in seeing the right thing happen. I am not disengaged from the greater quest to make our world a better, more livable, more peaceful place. I just don’t think that obsessive news watching accomplishes that. There is something much more important I can be doing, like praying.
I can be on my knees asking God to comfort the families of those who died Monday and heal those who lost limbs or were injured. I can pray for the police officers, FBI agents, and other first responders who are working so hard not only to capture the perpetrator of this violence, but also to keep the people of Boston, including many of my friends, safe. I can pray with those huddling with their children in their basements. I am afraid not only for them, but also with them. I can even pray for the suspect, not that he escapes (heavens no!), but that he finds the courage to turn himself in and be held accountable for his role in the events of Monday. Apparently he’s only 19. My heart breaks for anyone whose life is so corrupted that inflicting such violence even becomes imaginable.
I invite you to join me in turning it off, and turning instead to God. The media cannot change what is going to happen today, but God can.