Playing to the Hype...

...is enticing. With six billion people occupying the planet alongside all sorts of deadly animals, tornados, and poisonous foods, there will always be some sort of crisis to address. If you are looking for ways to find or create fear, you won't have to look too hard. As much as we all say that we wish the world were a better place, palpable fear is sexy like adrenaline, and as a result, short lived.

You realize there are still flattened houses in Oklahoma City right? Of course you do, it was all we could talk about for a week. It's also in the front of your mind that there are still tent towns in Port A Prince (that's that city in Haiti that everyone texted $10 to) only a few miles away from the place where bodies were carried by the dump truck load and covered in dirt by bulldozers. And of course we daily think of the many people in Louisiana still grieving in the wake of the most tragic, and still very recent, event of their life.

Of course we do, because we care.

While I've addressed current events before, most of the time I intentionally avoid them. I don't get my jollies by giving a drunk a drink. In fact, there have been several times I've covered a subject that coincidentally hit headlines just before I clicked the publish button.

While there may be a time for breaking news, my goal isn't to throw more sugar into the crisis cool-aide. But it's tempting. Crisis is sexy and sex sells.

If you will allow me to make a left turn...

The_ScreamAs it turns out, our propensity toward national crisis fever is actually about individual crisis and our desire to dramatize, our need to have something tragic happen to us in order to feel like our life is important enough to have actual conflict.

If you don't know what I'm talking about, look for it as you go through the checkout line, or ask your friends about how their week is going.

We understand that a meaningful life has conflict, it's inherent in our entertainment. Bruce Willis has to jump through at least eight panes of glass before he can throw Hans Gruber from the skyscraper. But when an East German terrorist fails to show up in our particular skyscraper, we settle for embellishment of relational conflict. We get the benefit of feeling important without actually having to do anything difficult meaningful.

Yippee kay yay.

But characters in great stories don't go hunting for crisis; they're trying to reach a goal (personal growth, liberation of the oppressed, spiritual enlightenment). When you pursue something worthwhile, there will be obstacles to overcome and probably some embarrassing failure.

Meaningful life will result in conflict and even crisis, but crisis doesn't mean you're getting anything done. So stop looking for hyped up drama.

If you are doing something worthwhile you'll have as much of the real thing as you'll ever want.