You’ve probably seen the YouTube video that challenges you to keep your eye on the moving ball. Seven or eight people are darting around and passing a basketball among themselves. Your job is to count how many times the ball changes hands. When the exercise is done, you are asked how many times the ball was passed… and if you saw the gorilla! That’s right, while your eyes were darting from one set of hands to another, a man in a gorilla costume walked to the center of the action, made a couple of dance moves, then casually retreated. Most viewers never notice the furry guy until the tape is replayed.
If you’re intensely focused on the scandals in Washington DC; or the ups and downs of the economy; or the latest crop of summer movies about to be released in theaters, you might have failed to notice some alarming statistics that were published this week. But when you understand these stats are about the heart and soul of America, you realize a giant gorilla has walked onto the stage while we weren’t paying attention.
1. A research firm announced that marriage rates in this nation have dropped to an all-time low. For example, while 72% of Americans were married back in 1960, that share of the population has dropped to just 51% two years ago! Some days it feels like gay couples are the only people who want to get married in the USA!
2. The Gallup Organization released research that suggests 70% of Americans are bored and disengaged in their careers! More than half of American workers have lost interest in their jobs and another 16% are actually working against the interests of their current employers.
Americans have always found our greatest satisfaction in family, faith, and career. What does it mean when the data confirms that marriage is declining, families are fragmenting, faith is shrinking, and most American workers are shopping online and playing video games on the job? You don’t have to be a doctor to recognize the warning signs of a serious national epidemic. This is not a tummy ache; this is heart failure! Maybe you still believe those “Life is Good” bumper stickers, but that is clearly not where most Americans are living these days.
There is some good news for saints in all of this: many of your neighbors are almost ready for an alternative to materialism and narcissism. It reminds me of that wonderful scene at the conclusion of The Wizard of Oz, when Toto pulls away the curtain to reveal a small, ordinary man struggling furiously to maintain a shattered illusion. Take another look at the expressions of your bored, dispirited neighbors and co-workers and you can almost hear a familiar voice gasping, “Don’t pay any attention to that annoying gorilla! Just keep your eyes on the moving ball, count the passes, and ignore that infernal gorilla!”
Lift up the Cross!