Sunday, June 1, 2014
The Feast of the Ascension--World Communications Day
Today is the 48th World Communications Day, the Feast of the Ascension. Both Catholic papers had an editorial on Communication and its importance in our present world. Korea is one of the world's leaders in the distribution of smart phones in the hands of their citizens. They have a well-used network in the new media.
The command of Jesus to preach the Good News to the whole world is made easier with the digital network. We are challenged by this new technology. The development in the electronic media requires that we have the right understanding of the media and how to use it properly. The recent popes have seen the use of the new media as a prophetic voice in uniting us together: a gift from God.
Pope Francis in his message on World Communication Day mentions: "In a world like this, media can help us to feel closer to one another, creating a sense of the unity of the human family which can in turn inspire solidarity and serious efforts to ensure a more dignified life for all."
In our society, the editorial reminds us, we see the violence that is wide spread. We do have the new media helping both the individual and society to contribute to fellowship and the common good, but at the same time, we have the individual and different groups wanting profit and using all kinds of propaganda without discretion and without responsibility, giving rise to many harmful side effects.
"Whenever communication is primarily aimed at promoting consumption or manipulating others, we are dealing with a form of violent aggression like that suffered by the man in the parable, who was beaten by robbers and left abandoned on the road." These words by the pope should upset the consciences of many.
Despite this, the pope and the editorials make it clear that we need to keep the door open to this new media and use it to carry out the message that Jesus gave the Church to go to the very ends of the earth to bring his Good News.
In the past, we went to the streets to deliver the message. We continue this, but we now have another way of reaching others with the new media. Like the good Samaritan of the Gospels, we want to be every ones' good neighbor, As the pope said: "The digital world can be an environment rich in humanity: a network not of wires but of people." The pope wants us: "to recover a certain sense of deliberateness and calm. This calls for time and the ability to be silent and to listen."
There are many who are hurt by the new media. The abuse will always be there, but that is the reason we should be involved and make it a warm and friendly environment. Disagreements, criticism, arguments are part of the attractiveness of the new media, but as members of the human family, we should not descend to the ad hominem attacks: appealing to feelings or prejudices rather than intellect. These attacks should make us all uncomfortable and the best way of responding is to fill the media with the opposite.