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This evening, my housemate and I ended our day with a little blood sport. When we started watching it, we didn't recognize it as that, but in the end, we both felt we needed a purifying shower.

YouTube has many clips from American Idol and X-Factor that show the absolute worst each of these shows has to offer. The clips feature people who seem to truly believe they have some talent and may also possibly have varying degrees of mental illness in some cases, being trashed, laughed at and humiliated. After about two hours of laughing at this emotional abuse, we finally turned it off. But it got me thinking...

I remember when American Idol first started, thinking to myself, the people who go on there get what they deserve. Many of them have no talent and need a wake-up call. While that may be true, what is the spirit behind this wake-up call? A true wake-up call is done to help the person while sparing them humiliation and embarrassment. What we watched was certainly not intended to help them. It was intended to provide entertainment for others at the personal expense of the performer.

The first young man we watched performed a cover of a Madonna song. As I watched him humiliate himself, I thought, "The people who sent him before the cameras and judges knew he was not a good singer, so they sent him in there to get what they got. Him making a fool of himself and being laughed off the stage. I said to Brian, "I hope he looks nothing like he did in his audition now, or this will follow him for the rest of his life."

The next memorable "contestant" was a teenage girl who obviously had some emotional problems of her own, as did her parents. One of the judges, after a terrible performance where she was overcome with anxiety, not only told her she was terrible but also that the dress she was wearing that her dad made for her was not appropriate, and he didn't like it. She left the audition in tears, and when her family came in to defend her, admittedly showing their part in her delusion, the judge blamed them and took no personal responsibility for his nastiness.

The final straw was a similar situation involving a teenage girl full of hope being laughed at and degraded and then an obviously unstable young man being mocked and jeered at. If the producers and those who pre-screen contestants had a heart, they would have kept them both off the stage even if their friends and family didn't. And we watch it. We watch the proverbial bloodshed. As we do, our souls rot.

To entertain ourselves by degrading and humiliating others is nothing new, but the internet has taken it to a new level. And we accept it and laugh along with the emotional bloodshed of those who we should be looking out for - protecting, not exploiting. To make it worse, we tell ourselves we are helping them with our cruelty. This shows us how far we have fallen.

We are to be protectors of the weakest among us. Not abusers. How did we get to a point where we parade people out who are vulnerable in one way or another and expose them to emotional harm? To make cry? Do we no longer see their humanity? Because they go on these shows, do they become a product to us to be used for our entertainment as those who were forced into the Colosseum to fight back in the day were? Is this what we have "evolved" into?

Why would these people with talent and more money than they could ever need not take these people and counsel them? Help them to see other gifts they have or other paths to pursue. Use their influence for their betterment? Step back and raise up instead of tearing down... Uuugh...where's the fun in that, or, should I say, where's the blood in that?

The woman at the well was ripe for mockery and exploitation. Jesus and His Apostles could have easily followed the lead of the Pharisees and Sadducees in helping them stone her. Mocking her sinful romantic situation. Laughing at her lowliness in society. But they didn't. At least Jesus didn't. He lifted her up and loved her. The world will not do this, in general, but we as God's sons and daughters through Baptism, are called to do this for the least among us. If we laugh and mock along with the crowd, we become cohorts of the destructor, not the Builder.

Lord, help us to be builders through our actions of love, turning off the "Colosseum" while helping others to do the same. 

Written 1/29/21

Human-written, AI spell-checked


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