March 14, 2008

Faithful Lines / Shirley Vogler Meister

Show others we are Christians through our love

Shirley Vogler MeisterImagine yourself at an indoor sports event watching a young grandson play in a basketball game then suddenly being hit in the forehead with a ball so forcefully that you blacked out temporarily.

Then, when coming to your senses, you hear nearby spectators laughing at what happened! No, this did not happen to me. It happened to a friend.

Still shaky from the experience, my friend drove herself to the hospital for medical attention then spent several days recovering.

She wondered about the nonchalance of others who witnessed what happened—even when the ball bounced off her head and hit another much younger grandson on the side of his head. He was comforted by his mother.

Later, my friend said, “Perhaps if I’d fallen to the floor, others might have shown concern.”

She tried rationalizing why others took the incident in stride. “Because of TV shows,” she said, “people are desensitized when others get hurt.”

She also said too many TV shows—in the name of entertainment—tend to convince people to make fools of them-selves or to say hurtful or embarrassing things.

She named certain TV programs that exploit people’s dysfunctional lives for others’ amusement.

“No wonder society tends to be callused,” she added.

I think violence or degrading situations in movies desensitizes people, too. It’s why my husband and I rarely attend movies.

Because my friend has a kind and generous heart, she also suggested that people at the time might have reacted as they did because they were simply shocked or surprised. Actually, there’s no excuse.

She has a sense of humor though, and later said she was glad the gym wasn’t filled with heathens because they “would’ve probably kept hitting me in the head with the ball so they could have instant replay.”

Years ago, one of my daughters had a very different but also strange experience while attending the wedding of a friend. She moved to another pew because a small group of adults nearby were being mean-spirited, snickering inappropriately and disturbing those around them.

What shocks me about my friend’s and my daughter’s experiences is that they happened at Catholic events within the Archdiocese of Indianapolis!

Such insensitivity is certainly not the norm for Catholics—and insensitivy should never be the norm for anyone else, either.

There are a variety of positive ways that people can react to accidents, illness, scandals, gossip or other negative situations. The best way is to think: “What would Jesus do?”

This might seem like a cliché solution, but it is a good way to judge what the right response should be.

As an old song claims: “We show we are Christians through our love. … Yes, we know we are Christians through our love. …”

(Shirley Vogler Meister, a member of Christ the King Parish in Indianapolis, is a regular columnist for The Criterion.) †

Local site Links: