I’ve never seen an episode of Duck Dynasty but I’m familiar with all things ducky and Robertsonian (i.e., the family now famous for their duck calls, books, and television show). Family patriarch Phil Robertson made comments about homosexuality and the Bible’s treatment of same in GQ magazine, and the feathers began to fly in the blogosphere and every other media exchange. Phil was banned from his A&E cable show because A&E supports LGBT people and agendas, according to the network.
The blogs, commentary clearing houses, newspapers, and television shows then began the predictable reaction of commenting in vociferous support of or opposition to Phil, his opinions, and his Bible. Of course, there’s very little nuance in most of the comments, which is typical in our world of reactionary living. And that seems to be part of the draw to the whole milieu we now occupy— we appear drawn to the incendiary and polarizing. Ours has become a culture that loves the inflammatory and looks forward to the next outrage— not only do these occasions provide the fuel to continue propeling media outlets of all types, but the man and woman on the street appear to find them riveting. Perhaps the name calling, charges, and countercharges made in our public arenas of debate provide the salt and pepper of life people are otherwise missing.
The Duck Dynasty uproar is just the latest in the never-ending stream of semi-conscious interplay between outrage and mea culpas. Why do we waste so much time and energy in reacting to what someone else said or did? Why is our state of equanimity thrown suddenly a kilter because a TV personality we don’t know and will never interact with says something, or simply believes something, we wouldn’t or don’t?
Or, why must Christians rise up in holy boycotting warfare because the Christ rejecting world we live in rejects Christ again in the form of a Bible verse? I know that I won’t always agree with you, or you with me, on what rises to the level of actionable issues, but could we agree to be thoughtful long enough to determine that something is actually worth reacting to before we do so?
What does this tendency to react to the latest culturally defined faux pas say about the level of life we aspire to? Are our lives really so uninteresting that the spice of insult and counter insult is an adequate substitute for that which is really significant? Are our souls really so deadened to the joy of life and the things that are excellent that the cheap substitutes of outrage and reaction are seen as desirable?
Here’s a suggestion for our 2014 life choices? Choose to engage life intentionally, based on a thoughtful, worthy set of goals and life priorities. Choose not to engage emotionally, verbally, or in writing (blogs, Twitters, or Facebook statuses) to the day’s latest outrage unless that outrage falls within our own goals and priorities. Let’s choose to live by a set of Biblically inspired principles that frees us from unnecessary, unproductive pursuit of the trivial and allows us to focus on issues and priorities that actually matter in the larger scheme of things.
The choices we each face daily in the number and ways we can interact with life are dizzying. Unless we are intentional in living by a well defined set of priorities we are likely to lose the sublime in the sleazy, the honorable in the ignoble, the virtuous in the vacuous. Choose to live intentionally.