We press that button in other ways also.
As we dwell within our entertainment-oriented, pleasure-seeking, self-indulgent domain, we ignore the plight of the world’s masses. As we give time and attention to the things that bring us materialistic or experiential satisfaction, we become apathetic to the mega-issues of our day.
We spend evenings absorbed by NBC, HBO and PPV, while people die in Darfur and the Congo. We fill our schedules with all manner of pleasurable activities and leisure occasions, while children are being raped for profit in Cambodia. We watch hundreds of hours of sporting events each year, while an emaciated worker is held in continual debt bondage to a brick kiln in India.
Where is our sense of outrage?
It has been numbed and replaced by the selfish pursuits of all that our culture has to offer.
Entertainment and material that "moth and rust will destroy" have been prioritized over giving time, attention and resources to our neighbors around the world.
Each time we tune into the next pointless TV show, instead of volunteering at a non-profit ministry, we are pushing the button.
Each time we splurge on trivialities and frivolities, instead of giving those funds to save a life in the developing world, we are pushing the button. We are choosing our pleasure over somebody else’s existence or well-being.
The 2006 American Time Use Survey, conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor, revealed that:
On an "average day" in 2006, persons in the US, age 15 and over, slept about 8.6 hours, spent 5.1 hours doing leisure and sports activities, worked for 3.8 hours, and spent 1.8 hours doing household activities. The remaining 4.7 hours were spent doing a variety of other activities, including eating and drinking, attending school, and shopping. Watching TV was the leisure activity that occupied the most time, accounting for about half of leisure time, on average, for both men and women.
Obviously, an "average day" factors in weekends and the reality that some activities are only done by a subset of the population. It is therefore designed to represent "adult society as a whole." Given that clarification, doesn’t it appear that our society can give more time and attention to the problems of the world, if only by replacing a few hours of TV per week?
We obviously devote a lot of our schedule to shopping. We live in a country that spends over $3 Billion on fine fragrances at department stores each year (not including Internet purchases and regular perfumes); a country that disperses over $250 million annually on just mascara alone; a country that will pay $15 billion this year for pet food, four times the amount spent on baby food. We dish out further billions on pet toys and accessories.
Time we invest in watching reruns and purchasing fancy fragrances could be used to save lives. Money we spend on pampering pets could be used to rescue the street child that nurses off of a stray dog in Bombay.
We’ve got it all wrong.
We keep pressing the button.
To be continued…