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The Power of the Media

February 15, 1997

If you come to the Church which is at Cane Creek, and maybe hang around the volleyball court with your children, then you are eventually going to become the “star,” disreputable or otherwise, of one of our newsletter articles. This week in our community, a little seven-year-old boy came to his mother and with cautious concern asked, “Mama, am I going to be in Mike Pearl’s news letter?” This family is not part of the local church, and I haven’t seen that little fellow in years, so the question must have been strange to his mother. She asked, “Why do you think you are going to be in the news letter?”
With foreboding, he then related an event that occurred earlier when he was playing with Clint, his seven-year-old cousin, whom I see most every day. As the story was told by Clint’s mother, here is what happened. Clint and his cousin developed a conflict of interests, with ensuing verbal differences, resulting in heated debate over personal priorities– nothing novel for two seven-year-olds. Their discussion was the foundation on which philosophy, dogmatic religion, and civil law are eventually forged. So Clint, with the brilliance of a logical tactician, resorting to his best argument, said, “If you don’t... then I am going to tell Mike Pearl and he will put you in the newsletter.” That did it. Clint’s threat won the day. What a deterrent! But I am afraid we are developing a new kind of childhood phobia. It will probably end up in the first year psychology books as “Publication exposure schizoid hyper self-imposed discipline mania.”
Several months ago we discovered another, far quicker, deterrent to public displays of negative emotion – otherwise known as throwing fits. We were keeping a little four-year-old girl when, to get her way, she suddenly resorted to her last-measure tactic. She stiffened and commenced to scream hysterically. It was obviously designed to cause us distress and deep concern – a poor judgment on her part. She looked as if she were totally lost to the insensitive world around her, submerged in her own vortex of emotional suffering and anguish; but not so much that she didn’t hear Deb say to Gabriel, “Go get the video camera, we need a picture of this.” She turned it off faster than an inflating air bag, sat up and asked, “Why are you getting the camera?” Deb answered, “Oh we are making a video on child training and we just need a few shots of kids throwing temper tantrums.” And then, with the arrival of the camera, Deb gave her the nod to resume her display, saying, “Go ahead.” As they all stood waiting, camera poised, faces anticipating good footage, the little girl, in a most controlled voice said, “No way,” and walked off with the utmost display of dignity and self-control. The best we can discern, she just didn’t want the publicity.
Do you suppose these out-of-control kids could really gain control of their emotions if they had sufficient motivation? The Psychologist may dub this one “Panasonic Panoramic Paranoia.” Who knows, a ready camera could rid us of ritalin—or perhaps just a threat to make their picture and story available to this newsletter. Send me your story. I will keep the names anonymous if you don’t think you can stand the publicity.

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