Back to Basics: Busy this weekend?Written by Charles Baugher | | firstname.lastname@example.org
I wonder what people did before the days of instant entertainment like television, video games, and computers? Those of us from (what has been labeled) “Generation X” or later, have never really known such a time. We have always had some form of technology to pacify us after work and school. I think that is why many people are fascinated with history, reenactments, and television shows that depict a much simpler life. These shows depict way of being that, while not benefiting from advancements like medical care, were not devoid of fulfillment.
This fascination with the simpler things in life seems to be widespread. Around Christmas time, the stores are filled with toys and games. Big box retailers rearrange their isles so that the latest toy is prominently displayed. They invest millions in television advertisements portraying happy children playing with the latest gadget or electronic. But on Christmas morning, many parents find their small children not playing with the toys at all! Instead they are building forts out of the boxes the toys came in. The bigger the boxes, the better! Wrapping paper and bows are lots of fun too. Then after diner, those wonderful presents bought for your children with the best intentions lie on the floor as the children scurry off to play in the snow. It’s around this time of year (Feb. or March) when those toys wind up being discarded because the children had more fun taking them apart than actually playing with them.
This seems to indicate that from our formative years, we yearn for simplicity. As we enter adulthood, we discover that even with all of the technological advancements that command our attention, many of us are left empty. We look around and wonder where the last few hours went while we try to figure out how the latest cell phone works. By the time we finally figure out what all the features do, it breaks and we have to replace it with the new and improved version. So the cycle continues. Really though, these products were never intended to offer fulfillment. This can only come from taking a step back to those simple things that make us human. This requires a reconnection with the inner part of us that yearns for something that does not include or require a three hour phone call to tech support.
One way to achieve fulfillment is by exercising genuine concern and helping our fellow humans. I think all of us yearn to help those around us and make a better society; the arguments really only concern how we are to achieve that. In the mean time, while the politicians try to solve all of America’s problems, there are things we can do to help. These are things that reconnect us with the simpler things in life, namely, just being human. One is to help eliminate suffering.
Suffering comes in many forms. This can be illness, loss of employment, poverty, sorrow, etc. In Toledo, we currently have the 8th highest poverty rate in the nation. That means the opportunities to help others are abundant. Churches try to respond, but are often overwhelmed. This coupled with shrinking funds and lack of volunteers, makes assistance even harder. Secular institutions also need help. With a shrinking tax base and decreases in outside funds, many of these are desperately seeking volunteers. The need is great, but the workers are few. So what are you doing this weekend? By helping others, we reconnect with the simpler side of life. A side that helps others rebuild their lives and in the long run, rebuild our community.
Charles Baugher was born in Kansas City, MO and moved to Toledo while a teenager. He is married and a proud father of three children. He graduated from Rogers High School, then Lourdes College with a BA in Theology. He is currently serving Calvary United Methodist Church and studying for a Master of Divinity Degree at Methodist Theological School in Ohio.