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Walking past a TV in Denver’s airport recently, ESPN’s Outside the Lines was on and the banner headline? Villain of the Week.
I didn’t notice who was talking—I hardly know any names on ESPN anymore—but I get the reason for the segment. It was yet another opportunity for a talking head to tell us about someone who did something worth complaining about.
Being fair, Outside the Lines is not the only show to create this gimmick. Keith Olbermann, before MSNBC fired him, routinely offered his twelve viewers the “Worst Person in the World.” And on Fox News, even Greg Gutfeld—a guy who I enjoy watching—has his “I hate these people” segment on The Five.
I’ve got no issue with someone pointing out injustices in the world. With social media, a wrong can be righted quickly, which is good. Of course, it’s also true that social media can give us one side of the story while the rest of the truth sits in silence. Another post for another day.
But here’s the deal: If we create segments for the Villain of the Week, Worst Person, I Hate These People and more, where is our focus?
To get these diatribes to the airwaves, someone—or an entire staff–must constantly take time out of the work day to consider, “What bothers me? What is something wrong I need to point out?” Or more to the point, “How can I be angry today?”
This post isn’t a “Find the good in everything” column. Nor is it a “Let’s be positive and the world will join us!” missive. Not that these aren’t high ideals, but let’s be real enough to say there are some messy things out there and we can’t avoid them.
But I wonder why we need to work so hard searching out the bad. I wonder why we need to create segments on TV shows where we go out of our way to gin up anger and outrage.
On the plus side, on Fox News’ The Five, the show’s closing segment, One More Thing, often focuses on the positive. Good for them. We need good news. Lots of it.
As I began writing this, I was sitting in a tire center in Moses Lake, WA, 2215 miles from home. There for a speaking event, the tire on my rental car found a nail on my way to a local restaurant. That’s the bad news.
The good news? I called Les Schwab Tire Center. In a half hour, Trevor was at my hotel, airing the tire so I could get to Schwab.
Once I got there, Sarah was smiling and ready to help. Though the waiting area showed plenty of people were in front of me, in a short time everyone was accommodated. Once my rental car was fixed, Sarah called me up and handed me my receipt.
“No charge,” she told me. “It’s just a service we do for our customers.”
But I’m not yet a paying customer. I’ve never bought a thing from Les Schwab (they have not expanded to Nashville). Yet they treated me as a friend.
I dropped some money on the counter and said, “Hey, go get coffee for everyone—or something. Thanks for helping me out.”
“Oh, you don’t have to do that,” Sarah told me.
I smiled. “And you didn’t have to do what you did for me, either.”
There’s a lot of good in this world. If someone wants to spend their time telling me who is “the worst” or what they hate, have at it.
But as I–and perhaps you, too–pursue the faith of those who first followed Jesus Christ, they focused mostly on encouraging each other (Hebrews 3:13). While the New Testament deals honestly with those who turn away from God, Jesus didn’t send his disciples on a mission to “find the worst person in Jerusalem” or anywhere else.
I’ve only got so much time. Using my time wisely, I’m better off encouraging and thanking people like Trevor and Sarah who are doing the right thing, working at a company that apparently knows the value of doing good. Yep, there’s bad, too–we can’t deny that. But we don’t need to go hunting for it.