February 13, 2006

Our Opponents' Stories

They are heartless beings without eyes, machines with muscles seeking Olympic gold. We, on the other hand, are hometown heroes, kids from small-town America, with hopes of rising above the obstacles in life and "bringing home the gold." They have no past, no history. They're robots; we don't even see their faces, just the reflection of the Italian alps shining off of their polarized goggles. We have histories complete with childhood pictures, showing off wide-eyed preschoolers whose smiles mask the trauma in their lives.

Last night, while watching the Olympics, I realized that this is how NBC presents the athletes. It's reality TV at it's best: manipulative and captivating. The brief background stories presented for the hometown athletes draw our sympathy, and we can't help but cheer and root for them. Yet halfway through last night's telecast, at the point when I realized I could not go to bed until I saw "The Flying Tomato" win gold, I became aware of just how I was being manipulated. It's not true, I realized; all the athletes have stories. Every one of them.

When I first started in ministry, I heard a more experienced colleague comment that "everyone has a story." I didn't really think that was true at the time. Since then, experience has shown me that my colleague was right. And once we take the time to listen to their stories, they become more human, and God's love flows more easily between us.

Which is why, of course, our opponents and enemies must always remain without stories, without human emotion of any kind. Otherwise, they would be our enemies no longer, and what kind of a world would that create?


Guido said...

And Bob Cueni says, "Our task as people is to and listen to people's stories, everybody has two or three to share." I like Bob's notion that we have multiple stories to share.

Yeah, NBC is manipulative with their coverage.


jo(e) said...

You are so right about this.