De-Trivializing Our World

Posted on

A Trivial Pursuit playing piece, with all six ...Did you know…

… a cluster of bananas is called a hand and consists of 10 to 20 bananas, which are known as fingers.
… C3P0 is the first character to speak in Star Wars.
… the most abundant metal in the Earth’s crust is aluminum.
… there are 1189 chapters in the Bible: 929 chapters in the Old Testament and 260 chapters in the New Testament.

I’m good at trivia. Actually, I’m really good at trivia. There’s a standing rule in my house that we don’t buy or play board games that trivia questions because it’s just not fair. [Of course there’s also a standing rule that we’re not allowed to play ‘Go Fish’ any more either, but that’s a different story… “WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU DON’T HAVE ANY THREES??? LET’S TAKE THIS OUTSIDE, SUCKA!!!”]

As much as I love trivia, I’m worried that the important things in the world are losing their meaning and becoming an amalgamation of mere trivia and statistics. Conversations about the most critical issues on the planet seem to carry a parallel importance with the most inane.  I know men who are as passionate about sports as they are about their faith, women who are as committed to their “stories” as they are to their daily Bible reading, students who are more interested in the score on their last test than they are about how minority groups are treated in their school, others who know more about pop-culture icons than they do about their next door neighbor, world history or current events.
I think this may be happening because we are becoming a culture driven by trivia.  The media and culture around us puts as much energy into telling us what celebrity couple is divorcing as they do about genocide and starvation in Africa.  We are so bombarded by numbers and statistics that we don’t even process what they mean any more. We can look at how many murders, rapes, car crashes, abortions and hate-crimes were committed in a certain month, in a certain city… and we don’t even bat an eyelash.

So what I’ve been trying to do is that when someone burps trivia out at me, I don’t let it pass by. I evaluate it’s importance to me, my neighbor, my country and the world.  This helps me two ways.  First, I check to see if someone is feeding me garbage information, and second, it lets me break it down into a manageable, meaningful data.

For example… If I hear a statistic like “1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18.”, I think of the families and children that I know and am surrounded by in church, at the park, or at the swimming pool.  I count them by 4’s and 6’s.  I consider that every fourth girl and every sixth boy may be carrying around a deep and permanent scar, and it drives me to be emotionally effected by the statistic and to pray for them.

I encourage you to open your eyes and give flesh to the numbers.  Perhaps then we will begin to de-trivialize the world around us and see it as God sees it.