Fr. Britto's Blog

Points of Light

Last week as I was watching the evening news, I was particularly moved by a special story which involved a close-knit family. The two children remembered how their parents had sacrificed much for them and built a happy family. They noticed that in most of the family pictures, their white car, a Ford Mustang, was always prominent. Their dad loved that car tremendously. Unfortunately the mother got ovarian cancer and needed expensive treatment. As the medical expenses kept growing, the father was forced to sell his much-loved Mustang. For years no one knew where the car was.

As the children became adults they wanted to do something special for their dad. They managed to track down the car and ultimately purchased it. When they presented the car to the dad, this big man became overwhelmed with emotion. He could not hold back the tears. When the Ford Motor Company heard about the story, they stepped in with a special gift. They enlisted an outfit that refurbishes old cars to give the old Mustang a new engine, a new interior and a fresh new exterior. When the dad was presented with the “new” vehicle in a public event, even the by-standers were moved. No one could hold back the tears.

Watching the story, I was tearing up. I was moved by the goodness of the two children who wanted to repay their dad in some way. That is how things are supposed to be. Our parents take care of us when we are young, and we should take care of them when they are older. The story was uplifting because it reminded me that there is much goodness in the world. We Americans do many wonderful, noble things. And yet stories of mass killings and terror grab the lion’s share of our society’s attention. Why is that? Why can’t good, positive stories be as newsworthy?

Part of the blame should be laid at the feet of our media. On any evening the majority of news items cover murder, crime, catastrophe and terror. It is so much easier for journalists to cover crime than do in-depth, meaningful stories. Even the cable channels propagate negative stories on both sides of the political spectrum. They stoke the fires of animosity and resentment towards the other side. As a result, we feel rather despondent about the state of our society even though there is so much goodness in our everyday life.

As I reflect on this phenomenon, I remember a communication theory put forward by George Gerbner and Larry Gross. According to “Cultivation Theory,” as we consume more and more media, particularly television, we tend to make our real world resemble the world we see on TV. How many of us have seen a cop draw or fire a gun on the street? And yet, in any thirty-minute crime drama cops draw their guns and fire them several times. As a result, the more we watch TV, the more fearful we can become of the real world. In fact, studies have shown that the elderly – who tend to have their TV sets on more than others – are more afraid of becoming a victim.

Especially as we approach the next election cycle, we will be bombarded with much negativity. We need to resist the temptation to become pessimistic. For starters, we should consider reducing our exposure to the media and the 24-hour news channels. We should ignore the expertise of pundits and talking heads whose dominant motive is their self-preservation. We need to be discriminating in our media consumption. We should even watch media that disagree with our ideology and political opinions to get a balanced view of our political landscape.

We need to discover and celebrate the acts of kindness and goodness that average citizens carry out every day. We need to unveil the goodness that is abundant in our neighborhood and in our community. We must teach our children that as Christians we can overcome evil with good. We need to make our light shine so that evil cannot envelop us in darkness. We must heed the call of the Master in His Sermon on the Mount when He said, “Let your light shine so that seeing your good works people may give glory to your heavenly Father.” Let our points of light drown out the darkness of evil that threatens to submerge humanity.

Several years ago, a Maryknoll priest, Fr James Keller, saw that good people complained about everything that is wrong with our politics, the media, the public school system and our society. Fr Keller challenged them to stop criticizing and do something about it. He started a movement called “The Christopher Movement” that urges good people to show leadership in all areas of society. Those who belong to this movement bring Christ into the mainstream culture. They are the Christ-bearers. Fr Keller gave them a simple motto taken from a Chinese proverb which says, “It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”

This is the Christian witness we are called to bear. We need to keep our eyes open to the numerous acts of kindness and goodness that happen around us. We must strive to drown out the loud voices of evil that demand our attention. In our Christian perspective, we believe that goodness always wins. God is in control.

Enjoy the last week of relaxation as our children return to school! It will be good to see everyone back on our church campus.

Who is Fr. Britto?

Born in India to deeply-committed Catholic parents, Fr Britto is one of seven children. He joined the Salesians of Don Bosco as a young man and was ordained a priest in 1981.

After he completed his priestly formation and his early education in India, he came to the US for his graduate degree in Journalism at...Read more...

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St. Paul of the Cross

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