1) The mainstream news media presents a distorted reality that subtly shapes our perceived relationship between the individual and government. As the author (Charles Colson) brilliantly observes:
“We are succumbing to what French philosopher Jacques Ellul prophesied in the 1960s—the politicization of all aspects of life. Ellul foresaw the Information Age and the media’s need for a steady flow of information to feed the populace. Media therefore would gravitate to covering centers of power. Politicians would be willing accomplices, because they’d gain fame and clout.”
In other words, the news media of our day is designed to favor and encourage ever larger and more powerful centers of government. Whether conservative or liberal in ideology, the mainstream media will always “gravitate to covering centers of power” - because THAT is where the “news” is – but their coverage only serves to augment that power. From the media’s perspective the true movers and shakers in society are the ruling elites, and so journalists hit us with a constant barrage of images and stories that focus on those who hold political power. Our minds become so saturated with this over-emphasis on the political that we begin to believe that every facet of our lives has some political dimension. We begin to believe that every social ill and every cultural shortcoming must be solved with some new piece of legislation or government action or bureaucratic program…
“We’ve succumbed to what Ellul predicted—the idea that every problem has a political solution. This, he warned, leads to increasing dependence on the state and decreasing citizen control of government.”
The media-driven emphasis on politics and State power subtly influences our perception of reality. We take on their bias toward more government control and less personal freedom. As we absorb their message that the really important things in the world are political, we begin to look at politics and government as the solution to all of our problems. We assume that the government ought to act whenever a social crisis arises. Driven by the media, the government becomes the primary shaper of society and of the culture.
This distortion is damaging to the more fundamental structures of society, the structures that really DO matter most, like family, marriage, and local associations like churches and civic groups:
“…when government becomes all-intrusive, the intermediate structures that keep societies vibrant—families, churches, and voluntary associations—collapse and tyranny follows.”
2) What is the solution?
We should all be constantly on alert to this bias in the media and resist it. When the media offers wall-to-wall coverage of some breaking news story and reporters hang on every word spoken by politicians who offer bureaucratic solutions and more government action, we should ask ourselves: Is this the best answer? Is there anything I can do personally instead of turning to government? Is there anything we can do as a community before we ask the government to get involved?
Or as the author says:
“What’s the answer? First, we better recognize that politics is not the be-all and end-all. Politics is merely the expression of culture. Clean up culture—that’s our job—and politics will follow.”
Change the culture. That is not an easy task. But it is a task we must set about doing. Politics cannot do it. As stated above, politics is a product of culture; we cannot expect politics to fix that from which it comes.
To fix the culture, we must turn to the private sector, our community organizations, our local business leaders, our families and churches to lead the way. By addressing social problems at this local level we build up the culture at its most fundamental level. If instead we rely on government to solve our problems, then we do not build up the culture – we only build up more government – and as a result society’s most basic structures suffer.
The culture has suffered enough. We must act now:
“And there is no time to lose. If, as I believe, the political illusion has America by the throat, there are only two likely outcomes—revolution…(albeit peacefully), or tyranny.”
I suggest a peaceful Revolution. And it begins at home. Turn off the TV and build up the culture.
“God has acted again and again through His people to change history’s course. But for that to happen, the Church had better sober up, summon its spiritual resources, expose the political illusion, and begin to defend and live the Christian faith in our culture.”