Thursday, April 26, 2007

American Idol Gives Back

Love Your Neighbor
Jim Taylor

I don't normally watch pop T.V. shows. Not that they have nothing to offer, I just tend to get bored with them rather quickly. My routine of dismissal was interrupted, however, for the past two nights of American Idol ( When I found out that they were "giving back," I wanted to know more. I have to admit it was inspirational!

I'm sure you know, but just in case, American Idol decided to use the show's influence to raise awareness and money for people in need. The program did just that with tears, laughter, videos of the people in need, and remarkable live performances as "Idol Gives Back" raised over 30 million dollars during the 2 hour-long production (total raised 70 million & counting!).

Charity Projects Entertainment Fund (, a U.S. registered charity, partnered with American Idol for this two-night TV refreshing event. CPEF identifies themselves at their web-site as "a new charitable organization established to raise money and awareness to benefit children and young people in extreme poverty in the United States and throughout the world, particularly in Africa."

I was specially moved by Simon. I don't watch the show; so, I don't know much about him. But the little I have watched, he can come off a bit "removed." As Simon walked into the lives of these tormented souls, he was left almost speechless, uttering over and over, "this is just wrong." He was over-come by the seeing and smelling and sickness, and appalling situations that these forlorns must endure. I guess something tugs at my heart to see people, who I might assume are rather callused, softened by the human condition. He was a prime example of what exposure to the suffering of others produces in healthy people--compassion! Compassion, if it's real, leads to involvement!

It was wonderful to be a part of so much good gathering momentum from making us aware and inviting us to give. I can't imagine a heart so closed that it wouldn't break for these stricken, suffering, sickened, and starving people--especially the children. I believe that when our hearts are broken, our wallets will open … Jesus put it this way, "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (Matt. 6:21). The inverse is implied, where your heart is, there will be your treasure!

For my family, this night around the TV was exceptional. We were all moved in our hearts and in our wallets. My three girls pulled out their piggy banks and started putting money on our coffee table--Mom & I did the same (only we finally used plastic since we wanted to give more than the cash in our wallets). Then, we all waited with baited breath to see how much money would be raised. I watched Comedy and TV star Ellen DeGeneres chip in 100K and challenge her buddies to do the same ... I'm sure some of her buddies did too. I decided to ask some of my buddies as well. How about it, do you want to chip in? Click here to donate or for more information on Idol Gives Back and the Charity Projects Entertainment Fund (CPEF).

This all reminds me of the relational connections that the Gospel assumes. I am connected to God, humanity, and Creation itself. I cannot divorce myself from any of these without doing violence to the vision of God. If I enter into His vision, I enter into solidarity with God, humanity, and Creation.

Perhaps, that's why Jesus summed up the most appropriate way to live as loving God and loving our neighbor. We already know that. Don't we? And we know that "christians" love their neighbors. Right?

We can give without loving, but we can't love without giving. "Love your neighbor …" (Jesus).

No comments: