Perspectives with Rev. Firas Shammas

A teacher complained to Tim’s parents about their son (11 years old),  saying that recently he became aggressive in his behaviour. He is hitting his friends, and even when playing group games he will be violent in all his actions. The teacher’s notice, however, did not take the parents by surprise; Tim did not shy off from his behaviour at home. His older sister has had some bruises on her arm lately. 

Tim parents, teachers and the school’s social worker tried to talk to him about this issue, but things did not seem to be changing at all; on the contrary the snow ball was going downhill. 

One day, his class teacher arranged to meet the family right after the school; she was to take the school bus with Tim home to see if anything could be done, but she was not very optimistic. 

Once there she surprised his parents when she said, “I think I just learned what is wrong with Tim.” 

On the way to their house the bus had to go through the downtown and pass by the central cinema house where they had a huge poster about the movie being played there. The movie was an action one and the poster showed a picture of a very good looking, topless actor where you could see every single muscle in his upper body. 

“He really looked like everything an 11 year old boy wants to be. I saw Tim captivated by the poster as we passed by,” she said. 

Apparently, Tim identified himself with the picture or with the person in that picture; in other words, he saw himself to be that actor and quickly acted as one.

This story is not only about an 11 year old boy, it is about everyone. The honest response to it is not if we go through the same experience; rather, it is what kind of images play an important role in one’s self-understanding or in understanding the world around you? 

Before answering this question, we might want to remember a couple of things: 

•It is a picture-culture we live in; pictures surround us all the time, and we don’t have control over the ones we get to see every new day.

•They are all taken in professional shooting sessions: from the best angel, using the best lighting, putting the right things in, taking the wrong things out and by expert hands. 

So, we are surrounded with pictures that can’t be spontaneously found in everyday life.

The picture-culture we live in is really a fairy-like picture-culture; there is a tension between the images that surround us and the world we live in; there is a big distance between what you have on your tray and the giant hamburger you see in the ad.

Our eyes and minds are being trained, everyday, to connect and appreciate another kind of reality; a reality that has to do with the appearance more than the content, a reality where we are invited to identify with the eye-candies we see around. 

This can be a major reason behind our frustrations and unreal expectations.

And it can explain why our self-understanding, models and aspirations have become unreal more than real. 

In the Old Testament, in the book of 1 Samuel 16:7 it says: “…God sees not as people see, for they look at the eye, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

I think we are invited to learn again to look at the more important things in life and identify with them. Our life can take a big turn if we look to the heart and not to the eye. 

Our bus goes through downtown every day, what are we looking at and what are we learning? 

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