GENDUSA COLUMN: The privilege of your time

Published 9:30 am Wednesday, March 22, 2023

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At 6:30 on Saturday evenings, my husband and I usually catch the national news headlines if we are home. We do so in case we miss some critical event while attending a grandson’s baseball game or battling weeds in the yard.  Most of the time, we don’t watch the full 30 minutes of NBC’s telecast, but we just happened to make it to the final sentence one such evening. I am so happy we did.

Jose Diaz Balart is the anchor for the show, who ends every Saturday night telecast with, “Thank you for the privilege of your time.” When my husband and I heard his sign-off, we thought it was extraordinary and thoughtful. Now, I watch his newscast just to listen to the ending! After hearing of the flaming wars between countries and humans, his words somehow dampen the fires of fear.

The privilege to garner someone’s time is a gift we often take lightly. When a reader sends me a note regarding my column, I feel honored because they read the newspaper and wrote a letter of appreciation. How thankful all of us involved in the news industry are for those who read or listen to our words.  

Time is a privilege God gives us to make the best use of it. How much time do we waste doing things that please only us and possibly no one else? Do we spend too much time avoiding others’ woes because it makes us uneasy?  The devil loves to fill our time with selfishness, while God requires us to be selfless. 

We are blessed in our country to have the liberty to worship, speak, and embrace freedom. But we are also free to listen, be objective, be informed and become more knowledgeable. 

“News” is often given a bad rap today because many believe all news outlets are biased. The headline news simply reports current events that we should all be interested in. Yes, it is unpleasant to hear about crime, war, discrimination, devastating weather, polarizing politics and the economy, but to be of service, we must become aware. How can we help children who are left parentless because of war or crime if we choose to ignore their story? How do we produce change when we decide not to be open to realities?

We generally create more trouble when we hide from the troubles around us. By avoiding news of others’ despair and suffering, we may not realize that we are putting our feelings, pleasure, and time above God’s command “to love one another.”

So many of us today become distributors of our version of “news.” 

A fictional account: Old Jeb heard a social media story that made sense, so he shared it as a fact with like-minded neighbors Bud and Uncle Joe. And, while they were busy spreading that story, they missed the headline, “Jesus returned to the Jersey shore today!” But even though the news outlets showed a video of Jesus walking on water, some, like old Jeb, would swear it wasn’t true. The trio collectively exclaimed, “Well, that made no sense, so it must be a conspiracy!” Is it safe to say that Joe, Jeb, and Bud missed a remarkable story by burying their heads in the sand?

So, is it accurate that “we only hear what we want to hear and disregard the rest?” How foolish we are to do so. Because we will miss the benefit of expanding our minds and being better informed to create sensible solutions. 

Many have defined every news story as being politically prejudiced. A few would declare the report about a bear overturning a family’s van in Yellowstone as a politically motivated stunt. We can interpret news in any way we like, but often it is simply reporting to keep us aware. 

From local to world news, we learn about troubled lives and those who become heroes to ease their burdens.  We immerse ourselves in understanding and caring about what happens in our community and those far from our neighborhoods and cities. 

We live in this time, these days, and these hours. We cannot return to the past nor bring Walter Cronkite back because we now abide in the cable world. But we can take our minutes, live in our reality, and use godly discerning wisdom until Jesus actually does come to the Jersey shore and our time ends.

In the meantime, I thank you for the privilege of your time.

“Yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.” James 4:14