Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Survival Motif of Society

Seven singers appear once a week on a popular TV program called "I am a singer," and each week one of them is disqualified. The studio audience of  five hundred votes and the singer with the lowest score is eliminated, replaced the following week by another singer. The columnist in the Catholic Times begins his article with the thought that this "I am a singer" syndrome has spread to all of society.

The columnist wants to know what has caused this frenzy. "Could it be the competition for survival, the survival motif, that is central to the program?" he wonders. The goal of the game is to stay in the game--staying 'alive'--as long as possible. He presumes that this similarity to the survival methods used to stay competitive in society is what gives the program its appeal.

That is the bitter side to the program's appeal. In our present society, the programs and projects that are getting so much public attention are often survival-related. It is seen not only in the world of singing competition, but in cooking, fashion, dieting and even in the  innocent world of games for the young. If the survival motif is not there, it is considered, cynically, as lagging behind the times.

We all from an early age learn to survive. Our friends, even brothers and sisters, become potential competitors. Our writer sees neo-liberalism as the culprit. Society is becoming more jungle-like, and our attempts at survival more cruel. Everybody wants to disassociate from this jungle but the situation is such that it is difficult. So they give themselves to their cravings and are controlled by them.

For those who are trying to live a life of faith, the influence from  society with the emphasis, "I have to live first" is not small.  In the parish and in parish groups  the  survival game is played; others are seen as competitors and pushed to the side. Because of this competitive mentality some are saying, even in the Church, we are not experiencing the fullness of humanity.

As Christians we know that the order and values of God's kingdom are different than those on earth.  Victors on the earth are not necessarily the ones that God sees as victorious. God, we are told, makes the first last and the last first.

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