Choir Notes

A World of Real People
From Music and the Spoken Word
Delivered By: Lloyd D. Newell

One of the remarkable things about humans is that we care about others—those we know personally and even those we don’t. With a few rare exceptions, most of us genuinely care about the well-being of others, and we do our best to help and not harm. And yet in our technology-filled world, we sometimes don’t even notice others or their needs, and so our good intentions go unfulfilled.

Cell phones, computers, and other high-tech tools enrich our lives in countless and amazing ways, but they can also distract and even endanger us. Ironically, they can make us aware of current events a world away but oblivious to what is happening around us. In a sense, life may pass us by because our heads are down, our ears are plugged, and our thoughts are elsewhere. Just a few weeks ago, a woman stood for quite some time in a grocery line next to her neighbor, but both were so focused on their smartphones that they did not even notice or speak to each other.

As one writer observed: “Our use of technology has fundamentally changed not just our awareness in public spaces but our sense of duty to others. Engaged with the glowing screens in front of us rather than with the people around us, we often honestly don’t notice what is going on."1

Some have found it helpful from time to time to unplug certain devices and just listen and look—truly take in the array of sights and sounds, truly look at the glorious world and the people in it. One man found that turning off the world’s noise during his drive home from work helped him relax and arrive home refreshed. A family with grown children decided to be more intentional about making time for face-to-face conversations, not just screen-to-screen interactions.

There’s no doubt we live in a wired world, but we also live in a world of real people. We can choose to turn our thoughts to them and tune our hearts to their needs.

1 Christine Rosen, “Are Smartphones Turning Us into Bad Samaritans?” Wall Street Journal, Oct. 26–27, 2013, C3.

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