Media is a guardian of healing. Healing is always occurring in society. Ubiquitous media never stops in fulfilling this all encompassing role. It’s scope and impact are far-reaching. As an object of our attention it has profound influences on our perceptions; and there’s healing of mind, body, and spirit. The mass media is the central nervous system of the world.
It lives up to the description by Henri Nouwen (1932–1996), a Dutch-born Catholic priest, professor, writer of psychology, who asked, “Did I offer peace today? Did I bring a smile to someone’s face? Did I say words of healing? Did I forgive? Did I love? These are the real questions. I must trust that the little bit of love that I sow now will bear many fruits, here in this world and the life to come.” Nouwen’s exposition on an individual’s social responsibility can be likened to the role of the media in society. Whether it succeeds or fails at these goals is for us to decide.
We know the media has brought about healing to racial conflicts and natural disasters. It has been a benevolent guardian to conflicts during the Civil Rights era, Watergate era, Vietnam War, and America’s involvement in Afghanistan.
The media covers diverse religious faith traditions, cultures, and ethnic groups, via newspapers, magazines, books, radio, cable, TV, and the Internet. Although these media are limited in some cultures, it’s sobering that we’re able to find commonalities in some major religious. It’s clear that through many faith traditions, adherents worship the same God, even if he’s called by different names. People attribute healing, peace, prosperity, and personal well-being to being obedient to his teachings.
A message which comes through loud and clear is best captured by Joseph Addision (1672–1719), an English essayist and playwright, who stated, “If you want to succeed in life, make perseverance your bosom friend, experience your wise counselor, caution your elder brother, and hope your guardian genius.” This statement boils down to putting one’s trust in God. Undoubtedly, these beliefs permeate many faith traditions, although these concepts may be expressed in different ways. It’s media which is the healer and purveyor of this reality.
Secular & Non-secular Media
It’s unwise to think that readers and viewers of media will react similarly about media’s role in healing. Some argue the media does nothing more than push sensational stories. It’s commonly believed by media critics, “if it bleeds, it leads.” But one thing however we tend to forget is the ongoing discussion and analysis in contemporary media. In our nations experts weigh in on the important stories which their audiences are free to accept, or refute.
Taking shape though is the edification of the public and bringing wholeness to the audiences’ perceptions of stories that are confusing. With this process media can claim impressive results. Whether in secular or non-secular media there continues to be instances of healing. We become aware of suffering patients with diseases and how they were cured via the intervention of media serving as a catalyst for change.
Healing may not necessarily be physical healing, but it may mean emotional stability to communities torn apart. Radio and TV serve as instruments in promoting charitable works in the midst of natural disasters, raising aid for those affected by drought, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and forest fires. So the next time you read a magazine, flip through the pages of a newspaper, laugh at a situation comedy on TV, or find yourself volunteering for causes you have seen, remember that the mass media plays a role in the healing process of our society.