Sunday, August 31, 2008

Who do you need?

This is a rhetorical question - anybody knows the answer. It's just meant to make a point. Who do you need most? An ambulance officer who might save your life if you get injured, or a pro golfer? A fire fighter who might rescue you from a burning building, or a 'soul' singer? A rescue squad member who might get you out of a crashed car, or a rock and roll star? Next obvious question: who gets paid the most, and gets adored and idolised by thousands?
Who did anyone need most in the past? A T.V. presenter, or their mother? A star football player, or their father? You get the point here!
My grandmother once said, looking at a newspaper report about Elizabeth Taylor's facelift surgery: "Your mother is worth ten of her". I agreed. I could have said "Make that twenty." The same would be true of my wife. But this in not running a celebrity actress down as such: I'm just getting some priorities right. There's no reason for me to be hostile to someone like Elizabeth Taylor. But she did not help me to get a life - my mother and father did. And that's just a small personal example.
Of course people know this. Also, it's easier to make an idol out of a singer or actor, or sportsperson, because you don't live close to them and see their real, fragile humanity. It's natural enough to be impressed by what someone does, and become a bit of a fan. But it might be a good idea to remember who you're going to need. Is it a friend, who has always stood by you and cared if you had troubles, or a screen idol who might find it a nuisance if you went up to them and wanted something from them? That's if you could get near them!
I wondered about trying to write a satirical novel in which everyone in the world wanted to be a celebrity. Just imagine: we all want to be famous, and make it the whole point of our lives. And to find a way of setting some sort of record, people have to find the most obscure things to do, just so that they're the first. To get into the record books, the newspaper or attract television coverage, you need to find something that hasn't been done before. Just imagine - someone decides to be the first person to kayak across the English Channel, or across the Straits of Florida. They might set out to be the first person to roller-blade right across the U.S or round the coast of Australia. Another idea might be to walk backwards between the West and East coasts of your home country, and someone else decides to do the same in reverse. In each case they're the First To Do It, so it's instant fame! This list could go on and on. In fact someone might set up a business collecting unique or unusual ideas, ways to set some sort of a record or get attention, and get rich selling the ideas because they've already thought of them and put the list in print. Meanwhile, there is a critical shortage of nurses. What would happen?
Would it make people stop and think? Or would they suggest passing laws compelling certain people into certain jobs, as used to happen in the former Soviet Union?
To some extent, it's actually happening. Several English speaking countries have had to run recruitment campaigns outside their own borders trying to find qualified nurses. Just now, I'm told, there is a shortage of teachers. Also, there have been advertisments trying to get more fire fighters. Note what they have in common, those occupations. They're all essential, but none of them are glamorous. You've seen a calendar or a magazine cover featuring sporting stars, perhaps? Have you seen one featuring obstetric nurses? And if you watch television, do you ever run across a show like "American (or Australian) Idol"? That seems to be what people dream of becoming - because it's shown to them as the greatest thing to be.
There is a precedent here. Jesus Christ was the son of a carpenter and a stay-at-home mother. Such descriptive comments of Him as survive, do not portray Him as being glamorous. He was not born into wealth or high social circles. He was not a person who would have attracted hangers-on trying to get a bit of his 'cool' and wealth. But that is the person God chose to make Himself into when He took a human identity and walked on Earth. Does this tell us something?
I don't suppose we can change the world. The celebrity culture will endure. But had we better remember who matters before we find that they're not there?


jel said...

Great post, Andrew !

hope you and your's are well.

my husband, read your book,
(his words) It was Very Good!

take care

Randi Jo :) said...

great one! :) interestingly enough - our pastor's next series of sermons is all about 'american idols'.

It's a big issue in our culture. We are all focused on the wrong people, wrong things because of where we spend our time (TV, magazines, movies, etc.etc)

we don't think twice about cheering, raising our hands, dancing for celebrities or at concerts - but what about Jesus?

Gisselle G said...

hi thanx for suggesting the book...... i will check it out!!
my friend read your book and said it was awsome! well have a good day or night... lol. bye :)