Philosophy Lite: Man lives for thrills, excitement
Aug. 5, 2011 at 3:05 a.m.
By Raymond Smith
What is it that draws us to the violent, lurid, scandalous and disastrous?
It seems to be our nature to be drawn to such scenes. Many think we can't stand the boredom of everyday life. Philosopher William James at a Peace Banquet in 1904 stated that, "Man lives by habits, indeed, but what he lives for is thrills and excitements."
Blaise Pascal (1623-62) spoke to this and said that a king should be the happiest person alive, but if things got boring, he would call for the court jester or start a war.
He also said that a play that does not elicit emotion is worthless.
Just recently, The News of the World newspaper in London was put out of business for snooping on the Internet and telephone to learn of dirty secrets of famous people, so they could publish those scandals in their tabloids. Such newspapers are often placed near a checkout stand in the grocery store.
Drama on TV includes screams, moaning, gunfire, squalling tires, fistfights, danger, blood and death. We seem drawn to anything different from our humdrum lives.
It's our nature to crave excitement. I started out with a motorcycle and later owned three different airplanes.
I think I have gotten over most of it, but I still get excited over a car chase.
Remember, the earliest movies often worked in a car chase.
The furor over the recent Casey Anthony trial has dominated TV for weeks, and the networks were happy to promote it.
Young people are particularly susceptible, as they come into adulthood and have the freedom to try new things. Sometimes, the adventure involves theft, sex and violence.
Many parents today are worried about the violence on TV and in video games.
The greatest punishment for a prisoner is to be put into solitary confinement with nothing to see or do, but think.
John Bunyan, however, used his time wisely by writing "Pilgrim's Progress." I feel for some penned up animals that have nothing to do all day and get very little or no attention.
In this century, there are so many labor-saving devices that we often have more time on our hands than we know what to do with. The result is that we often overeat and snack too much, resulting in the obesity we see all around us.
Marcus Bach, in his book, "Make it an Adventure," tells us how to live life without boredom. The book is divided into three segments: the personal adventure, the social adventure and the religious adventure.
The personal adventure may or may not involve danger, but should not involve anti-social behavior.
The social adventure encourages an involvement with people, like join a local service club.
As a Christian, involve yourself more actively with your church members.
The religious adventure means taking God's word literally and serving Him with an adventurous spirit. The opportunities are limitless.
People with a goal in life find no need to be constantly entertained or amused.
Raymond F. Smith is a deacon at Fellowship Bible Church in Victoria and President of Strong Families of Victoria.