Don’t Change the Channel

Don’t Change the Channel "Hey, I know what we can do for the July 4 weekend,” my brother Paul spoke with the intensity of the boss on The Apprentice. “Let’s cruise to Knoxville. What do ya say?” “Oh, I don’t know,” I whined. “It’s such a long drive.” “I know, but there’s nothing like a party at Cheryl’s house.” I couldn’t argue that one. No one does a holiday bash like our sister. “Okay,” I agreed. “If we leave here Thursday night we’ll arrive around eight on Friday. We’ll stay until Monday.” The weekend turned out to be a smorgasbord of pleasure—biking, eating, swimming, feasting, tennis and gorging. Did I mention eating? We consumed more food than an army of Sumo wrestlers. After the fireworks on Saturday night, we returned to Cheryl’s house for yet another meal of chips, tacos, burritos, and ice cream. My burrito was steaming hot, slathered in a mountain of guacamole. Just as I was ready to plunge into this bean bomb, however, I clicked on the TV. With fork in one hand and remote in the other, I looked up to see an unsettling picture. It was not Saturday Night Live or stand-ups at The Improv or any other of the usual brain candy that floods the weekend airwaves. Instead, images of starving children appeared. I glanced at a grossly, malnourished kid sporting a scarf of flies. My fork dropped to the plate. The juxtaposition between the ghastly creatures on the screen and my own gluttony created indigestion in my heart. Fifteen years later, I can still remember my instinctive reaction to that image—Change the channel. Who wants to see the famished while feasting? Not me. It’s easier to change the channel. But I could not change the channel. We stared at the child, no one daring to eat. “Ouch,” Cheryl finally managed to break the silence. “This is not right.” “That’s just what I was thinking,” Paul added. “We have eaten enough this weekend to feed that whole village for a year.” “What are we supposed to do about it?” I wondered out loud—but in my heart I knew. It smacked of sacrilegious to snuff out the hollow faces and stuff our own faces. Grabbing the phone, I dialed an 800-number flashing on the screen. We passed the phone around until each of us had promised a monthly pledge. While our contributions through the years have not eliminated hunger—I believe we have made a difference. And you can too. How? Contribute to the tsunami relief fund through ADRA. Sponsor a child through International Children's Care. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or shelter in your area. Collect cans and give the proceeds to Operation Smile. Perhaps none of those ideas makes your heart beat faster. That’s fine. Do whatever suits you. But whatever you do, change the world—not the channel.

Don’t Change the Channel

"Hey, I know what we can do for the July 4 weekend,” my brother Paul spoke with the intensity of the boss on The Apprentice. “Let’s cruise to Knoxville. What do ya say?”

“Oh, I don’t know,” I whined. “It’s such a long drive.”

“I know, but there’s nothing like a party at Cheryl’s house.”

I couldn’t argue that one. No one does a holiday bash like our sister. “Okay,” I agreed. “If we leave here Thursday night we’ll arrive around eight on Friday. We’ll stay until Monday.”

The weekend turned out to be a smorgasbord of pleasure—biking, eating, swimming, feasting, tennis and gorging. Did I mention eating? We consumed more food than an army of Sumo wrestlers.

After the fireworks on Saturday night, we returned to Cheryl’s house for yet another meal of chips, tacos, burritos, and ice cream.

My burrito was steaming hot, slathered in a mountain of guacamole. Just as I was ready to plunge into this bean bomb, however, I clicked on the TV. With fork in one hand and remote in the other, I looked up to see an unsettling picture. It was not Saturday Night Live or stand-ups at The Improv or any other of the usual brain candy that floods the weekend airwaves. Instead, images of starving children appeared. I glanced at a grossly, malnourished kid sporting a scarf of flies. My fork dropped to the plate. The juxtaposition between the ghastly creatures on the screen and my own gluttony created indigestion in my heart.

Fifteen years later, I can still remember my instinctive reaction to that image—Change the channel. Who wants to see the famished while feasting? Not me. It’s easier to change the channel.

But I could not change the channel. We stared at the child, no one daring to eat.

“Ouch,” Cheryl finally managed to break the silence. “This is not right.”

“That’s just what I was thinking,” Paul added. “We have eaten enough this weekend to feed that whole village for a year.”

“What are we supposed to do about it?” I wondered out loud—but in my heart I knew. It smacked of sacrilegious to snuff out the hollow faces and stuff our own faces. Grabbing the phone, I dialed an 800-number flashing on the screen. We passed the phone around until each of us had promised a monthly pledge.

While our contributions through the years have not eliminated hunger—I believe we have made a difference. And you can too.

How? Contribute to the tsunami relief fund through ADRA. Sponsor a child through International Children's Care. Volunteer at a soup kitchen or shelter in your area. Collect cans and give the proceeds to Operation Smile.

Perhaps none of those ideas makes your heart beat faster. That’s fine. Do whatever suits you. But whatever you do, change the world—not the channel.

March 01, 2005 / Fresh Start
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