I don't watch TV news much at all, save for a few minutes of the local news a few times a week. There's a running story with my inlaws that I am swayed by the 'liberal CNN' while they rely on the 'balanced Fox News'. I find that fairly laughable, since I see it exactly the opposite. My younger son wisely pointed out this week – while inlaws were here defiling my TV by watching Fox News – that everyone thinks they have the fair and balanced version of the news.
The Glenn Beck show was on in the next room as I was preparing dinner. I caught bits and pieces of it, and was dismayed at the tone and content. It's not news, it's conspiracy theory, gossip, and borders on hate-speech that plays on peoples' fears. He has a right to say what he wants, but he doesn't add anything to rational, sober analysis of the nation's news. The show actually drags people further down into fear and suspicion, leading to a reflexive bias against anything that has certain key-words in it. That bias will keep the political debate in the gutter. To be fair to Beck, he's not the only one to have a show like that; and he wouldn't be popular if there wasn't an audience wanting to hear it.
A friend dropped his son off at our house to hang out with my boys for a while. We got to talking about politics, and he said he was starting to become afraid of what 'Obama's health care plan' would do to their medical coverage. There it is again – fear. They get good family coverage via a big-company medical plan, but he's heard from friends that everyone should be afraid of losing coverage, death-panels, and on and on. He's a smart guy, so what's going on!? I made the case for the common good, that health care for all could be good for us all, and that it's just not right for folks to go without basic health care – or filing bankruptcy because they couldn't pay their medical bills. I hope I made sense; I obviously think I do make sense!
In Gospel terms, I think of things like 'love your neighbor', 'the last shall be first', and 'whoever welcomes the little ones welcomes me'. There are more than a few places in scripture that encourage us to have no fear.
Ignoring the plight of others just isn't right. If I have healthcare and can afford to pay my premiums and other costs, yet ignore the fact that so many go without basic care, that's not right. How is that different from ignoring the beaten down guy on the side of the road for fear of getting dirty or assuming someone else will do something? How does that work with 'love your neighbor as yourself'?
Maybe we need to turn off the TV news and spend some time considering 'what would Jesus do?' Maybe we could take to heart the words 'do not fear' that Jesus advised his followers.