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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Saturday, December 27, 2003

Reading between the lines

By the Rev. Bruce Y. Nakamura

When life looks at you in the face, what do you see? Can you read between the lines?

When we stare back, we can't help wondering about the many powerful forces that affect how we think and live each day. One major force is the wonder of media technology, the ability to pass images and information to the rest of the world in a matter of minutes. Despite this modern wonder, it's important to examine not only its content, but various motivations and their far-reaching effects as well.

Television has been a profound invention with far-reaching implications. TV and cable networks know how images accompanying words have an impact on our everyday thinking and behavior. To keep us watching, images must spark our attention. But there is a difference between sparking our attention and developing our interests.

Increased viewer watching translates into higher ratings, which in turn translates into huge advertising. It's no wonder a person catching a ball can earn millions.

The "Matrix" movies with Keanu Reeves speak to the perversion, not of technology and machinery, but of our humanity when we allow modern ingenuity to get the better of us without realizing it. This is played out when technology in the form of the matrix re-created the memory of human minds to think and act out its bidding.

The technological implications of media cannot calculate the real human difference between its device to communicate information and communicating its specific information. When extreme forces driven by money control what and how information comes before the public, the real commodity of human values — that of nobility, the equality of all peoples, the common suffrage of social and economic inequity and injustice — shall continue to be the common plague of our humanity.

Do you really believe that our only real alternative fuel sources are oil and coal? Do you really believe with the wealth of the United States we cannot afford universal healthcare? Do you really believe that we Americans have really overcome our racist history of slavery and the destruction of indigenous peoples? Do you really believe that invasion and war are the final exercise of the modern democratic nation? Do you really believe that our enemies are those people who don't look like us, who do not speak English and don't agree with us?

History time and time again has taught us that the enemies of yesterday are the allies of today. What shall the enemies of today be tomorrow? We should watch even more carefully those close at hand.

When television stares you in the face, what do you see? Can you read between the lines?

The Rev. Bruce Y. Nakamura is the resident minister of Jikoen Hongwanji Mission. Expressions of Faith is a column that welcomes submissions from pastors, priests, lay workers and other leaders in faith and spirituality. E-mail faith@honoluluadvertiser.com or call 525-8035. Articles submitted to The Advertiser may be published or distributed in print, electronic or other forms.