Overnight, in just a matter of hours, Buffalo, with over 2 meters of snow, has seen the worst snow storm in years! My guess is that winter is absolutely here to stay. As I thought of winter and so much snow, my mind drifted toward a scenario of having been snowed in and without power. What would I do? What would people do? More specifically, what would we do without our smart phones, tablets, internet, and TV? Perhaps we would be forced to actually communicate with one another, and in person! I hope that you will agree with me in saying that it would not be a bad thing. I am not referring to the snowed in part though. So as we delve into the depths of yet another long and cold winter, may the thought of Christmas bring joy and consolation.
Where has the time gone? In just five weeks we will be celebrating Christmas! It used to be that when people thought of Christmas, holidays, or long weekends, they automatically thought of family and friends. I dare say that not many value time with family and friends, not as we once did. It seems we spend more time being “married” to our electronic devices (or maybe “the vices” would be a more accurate way to refer them). Even when in the company of others, we remain glued to our electronic devices. So, while we are there, we are not really there. The more troubling and quite disheartening news is that we have come to accept this as a way of life. So much so that some recently built homes in Europe are not equipped with dining rooms much less dining tables. It is quite a pragmatic solution I’d say. After all “why pay for something that you don’t need.” That would be a waste!
Instead of accepting society’s vices, the Church calls for a challenging of these, as they are detrimental and downright harmful to society and family life. The building of a culture of love and unity, as founded by Christ, is what the Church calls “evangelization.” And yes, evangelization is what is needed in our society today.
Breaking away from the shackles of addiction to phones and to the internet can be hard. So, as an incentive, one restaurant in Toronto is offering 10% off to customers who leave their phones face down on the table and do not use them for the duration of their meal. However, if one were to use their phone, then that person would have to pay for the other’s meal. Wouldn’t it be nice to see this practice become the norm in restaurants? For how many meals would you have to pay?
The truth is that while texting and emailing give us the illusion of being connected, in reality, we are disconnected from those around us. In order to build up family and community, we need to remove all competing noise and distractions. Thus, a challenge: when you are home with your family, for a few hours, go ahead and turn off your cell phones, the TV and the computer. You will see how the quality of your conversation, and consequently, the quality of your relationship with your family, improves.
I find that the “removing competing noise and distractions” method works well, even in prayer. Do not be afraid to be divorced from electronics and from the world for 15 minutes. The world can wait. After all, it is not fair to give God what’s left over from the day, those last 5 minutes before going to bed. Instead, what God deserves is our full attention first thing in the morning, last thing at night, as well as throughout the day – the same way we use texting throughout the day to stay connected with friends. God is always interested in our life, but the question is “are you interested in His?”