How do you get information? If you’re like most people — and like me — you get it through some form of mass media. You’re surfing the Web, or listening to the radio, or watching TV and you’re receiving the same message with the same details as millions of other people.
The information we receive creates a life we hold in common with people from coast to coast — and even around the world. The Catholic philosopher Marshall McLuhan coined the phrase “global village” to describe this situation. Thanks to mass media, our world has become like a single community linked by telecommunications.
Mass production has stepped up to serve — and profit from — a mass market.
The clothes I’m wearing have been mass produced by machines, probably in a land far from my own. If that’s true of priestly garb, it’s truer still of the clothes worn by lay people. We’re wearing the same wardrobe as people in New Jersey and Singapore, and we’re receiving the same news as people in New Jersey and Singapore.
Much of our experience is mass-produced. We accept this circumstance because it’s more efficient and less expensive than the alternatives. Who has time to undertake an investigation of every news story? Who has time to make clothing and other items from scratch?
But there’s a downside to living in the global village. What happens when the mass-produced culture takes a turn that’s unjust or oppressive?
In 1995, St. John Paul II, worried that we had already allowed that to happen. In his letter The Gospel of Life, he spoke of a widespread “culture of death” — a pervasive disregard for human dignity, human rights and human life.
He saw this manifest in the almost universal acceptance of abortion, euthanasia, assisted suicide and capital punishment. Each of these practices ends in death. Each represents the deliberate taking of a human life. But these hardly define the limits of the “culture of death.” The holy pope also spoke forcefully against the lethal methods of modern warfare — the destruction of nations and the forced exile of people because of their race or religion.
In the decades since St. John Paul sounded the alarm, the situation has become still more dire, and the circumstances more common in the global village.
Who among us finds this acceptable? Who’s OK with a million abortions a year? Who’s comfortable with the rape and exploitation of refugees and migrants? Who thinks the administration of capital punishment in this country is deterring crime or accomplishing justice?
Few people are comfortable with these global injustices. Yet everybody goes along. Why? Because what can one person do to change anything? In the global village, life is affordable and convenient only if you go along and get along.
On Saturday, Jan. 21, you and I can stand together and say we find these circumstances unacceptable. We can stand together at OneLife LA and celebrate the beauty and dignity of every human life, from conception to natural death.
One person alone can feel helpless against the tide of mass media and mass production. But one person standing with another feels stronger and more confident. And one person standing with thousands — standing on the side of right — is powerful.
This year’s OneLife LA will be our third. Each year it’s more joyful. Each year you can feel the momentum gathering and growing.
I believe we can change the global village for the better, but only if we act locally. And I can’t think of a single demonstration more effective for that purpose than OneLife LA. It’s a day filled with inspiration, from speakers, singers and celebrities. It’s a day for networking — learning about the forces for good in the community, and how you can help them and how they can help you. It’s a day for prayer.
I hope the day is already marked on your calendar. If it’s not, please mark it now. Plan to join us Saturday, January 21, 2017, at Exposition Park at USC. The annual Requiem Mass for the Unborn will follow at 5 p.m. at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Downtown Los Angeles.
God’s given us one life. Let’s not mass-produce it. Let’s make it good for one another — and for everybody.