In the past year there have been some very disturbing news stories that reveal much of what we have become as a nation. In June of 2008 a story aired on Fox News that showed video surveillence of a hit and run during which a 78 year old man was hit by one of two cars that were “racing” each other through downtown Hartford, CT. What appalled me was that this man lay in the street for over 3 minutes while over 30 people walked past without assisting him. Later, in July of 2008, another story got my attention that reported how a woman in a Brooklyn, NY emergency room collapsed. She lay on the floor for over an hour before a nurse finally walked over and discovered she was deceased. Once again, what raised my eyebrows was that in this crowded waiting room no one got up to help her. Most recently, what comes to mind is the poor man trampled to death on Black Friday as he opened the doors to his neighborhood Wal-Mart. I am most baffled by the shoppers’ reaction to the news that the store was closing due to the death. They were actually angry, not because of their own carelessness, but because they had waited so long to get inside the store and were now being forced to leave.
All this leads me to the conclusion that in many ways, America has become a self-centered society. All the new, technological toys that we buy that range from the incessantly ring cell-phones to the blackberries that dominate our minute to minute activities, serve only to insulate us from the concerns of others. Our thoughts become dominated by the “me” mentality. Who’s calling ME? Who’s texting ME? What’s on MY agenda for the day? What’s going to interrupt MY schedule? How dare they inconvenience ME? The death at Wal-Mart is a loud condemnation of our selfish, consumer driven, self-serving mentality. But should we expect anything more from a society that sacrifices the unborn on the altar of convenience and tries to teach us, through public schooling, that we descended from animals and are therefore driven by a “survival-of-the fittest” mindset?
Now the question arises, “Is there any hope?” Well the answer is both good and bad. It’s good because there is hope. The Bible clearly teaches that our focus is to be on God first (“Seek first HIS kingdom and HIS righteousness…”) on others second (“regard others as more important than yourselves…”) and, finally, ourselves. So there is hope. But the negative side of this answer comes in trying to get the self-centered person to see the sense of putting God first, others second and yourself last. The self-centered person is focused on pleasing himself, serving himself and looking out for the good of himself, and thus, consequently, they do not wish to focus on someone else’s will for them. Such inward focus leads to a calloused approach to life. If any good comes of these astounding stories perhaps it’s a tool to pierce through the calloused heart and open the eyes of a nation to see just what we have become.