I have a confession: my wife and I enjoy binge watching Scandal. Similar to other TV series we’ve watched like Revenge, Prison Break, and Breaking Bad, something about the suspense and over-load of twisted details keeps us ever engaged and always wanting more.
I can’t watch them week by week, mostly because my mind can’t keep track of all the intricate moving pieces that weave the story into the twisted plot that keeps me addicted. My wife is much better at this. We may have a several month sabbatical from one show while waiting for the next season to release (or line up in our queue) and before sitting down to watch it, she can recall the entire story line (including names and details) of the previous episode in perfect detail. I usually have to watch the final episode of the previous season anyway. My brain does not have a strong enough storing cabinet for such details. But thankfully, she indulges me.
Finishing the final episode of Scandal’s most recent season caused me to ponder the kind of society we live in that has created such a strong pull for these type of shows. Then I realized, if you put them side by side, you see one common theme throughout them all: the corruption of morals due to a lust for power. These people blind-side, back stab, and even brutally kill in cold blood to climb their way to the top of political power and the social status ladder. These characters are somehow convinced that doing so will make their life more fulfilled.
What kind of world are we living in? I asked myself more than once as I saw eerie similarities between some of Scandal’s most recent season and our current political climate.
It’s shocking, and often horrifying, what people will do for money, power, fame, reputation, and appearance.
But scale it back a bit and these shows really aren’t that far off from our everyday life. Now, hopefully none of us would ever even contemplate physically murder someone, especially as coldly as Huck or Jake Ballard do. But I bet each of us has done something dishonest or something that goes against our morals/values in order to gain power or maintain appearances.
Perhaps it’s the white lie you told to your boss that made you look better, but took the credit away from another co-worker. Or maybe you embellished your skill set to make yourself more marketable for the next rung on the corporate ladder. Or perhaps you threw a friend or family member under the bus to maintain appearances in front of your “cool” friends, or snubbed someone you felt was beneath you just to make yourself feel better. Maybe you even convinced your LGBTQ child to stay in the closet to protect their reputation (or your own), or introduced your son’s partner as a “friend” to your own circle of loved ones in order to guard yourself and keep the peace. If we look closely, don’t we, just like the characters on TV, somehow convinced ourselves that doing these things will make our life better? More power-full? More fulfilled?
Which then begs me to ask the question…WHY aren’t we fulfilled?
What is it that keeps us always reaching for the next best thing, even when it exhausts us day after day?
We’ve all said or done things we regret in order to make ourselves look better than we really are. But it comes at a cost. Think for a moment about how the “other” person–the one you snubbed, the friend you didn’t side with, the person you beat out of a job, the child you silenced–felt. Think about the way your actions dented their own spirits, hurt their feelings, or bruised their self esteem.
What if, instead of wanting what other people have, we were thankful for what was already present in our lives and right in front of us?
What if, instead of putting others down to make ourselves look better, we brought them up to our level by speaking more highly of their skills than we do of our own?
What if, instead of making our child or someone we love suppress who they are in order to make us comfortable, we instead put our own reputation on the line and fiercely stand by them in alliance?
What if, we believed in each other, valued one another, and put others needs ahead of our own?
Then maybe, just maybe, that lust for power and position and money could be replaced with things like equality and justice and love.
And maybe, we could change the world and in turn, make it a more fulfilling place to live.
Because Love Makes All the Difference,