This week, I’ve experienced something new – going to the chiropractor. I’ve had trouble with my neck and shoulder ever since a rollerblading accident in college, but this year, it’s gotten much worse. So I finally broke down and took advantage of the health insurance I’ve been paying for to try to do something about it.
This evening on my way home from work, I realized something – my neck didn’t hurt when I turned my head! I know that’s such a novel thing, but I’ve had pain for so long, it had become the new norm. So it wasn’t until my neck didn’t hurt that I finally realized how much it had been hurting. Over the last few years, I’d become so desensitized to the pain, I didn’t even realize it was a constant part of my life.
That got me to thinking about other things. In our world today, we’ve become increasingly desensitized to the evil around us. We are exposed to it so continually throughout the day that, like the pain in my neck and shoulder, we’ve reached new levels of “normal.” It’s interesting to look back over the last few decades. Sad, actually. Back in 1973 when Paul Simon wrote the song “Kodachrome,” it sent shockwaves through the nation because it contained the word “crap.” As a result, it was banned from many radio stations. (Walked down the street and listened to the conversations around you this week?) In 1992, Sir Mixalot released “Baby Got Back,” which was banned from MTV because of its vulgarity (heard any of today’s most popular songs lately?) And, if I wanted, I know I could come up with a bazillion other examples.
How did things get so bad, so quickly? It’s pretty easy actually – we’ve become desensitized to the evil in the world around us. Just like how drinking one cup of coffee works for a while, but before too long, you need a second to have the same effect. Even when we’re shocked by what’s going on around us, we soon settle into the new norm, just like how jumping into the pool is freezing until you’ve been in the water for a few minutes, then you feel comfortable.
So, what do we do when the evil in the world around us is becoming so pervasive? How do we keep from being desensitized? Don’t indulge in it. Or if you have indulged, pull back. Just like refraining from coffee breaks your tolerance for caffeine, or getting out of the pool makes the water feel cold again, pulling back from bad environmental stimuli (movies, music, conversations, etc.) will decrease your tolerance for the evil around you.
Will people think we’re weird? Possibly. Will it make them curious? Possibly. But the more important thing is – our hearts and minds won’t be clouded with the junk that convinces us that evil is good and good is boring. The way that we are able to change the world isn’t through returning evil for evil, hatred and anger for hatred and anger. And it’s not by blending in, showing people that we’re just as cool as they are. It’s by standing out, by showing the world what Good looks like. Because the darker the room is, the brighter a light will shine.