I was reading a book about the history of American cinema in which the author recalls how, when he was growing up (in the 1930’s), people in movie audiences so connected with what was happening on the screen that emotions were often expressed vocally en masse during particular scenes; and applause at the end of a movie was common. I know from my own experience as a young regular Saturday matinee attendee in the 1950’s that this extended to those times as well. The audience came to be drawn-in and involved with the action in front of them – and they reacted! Even when my mom and aunt took me to the elaborate downtown film palaces to see a movie, people would always applaud as if on cue when “The End” appeared, thus concluding their entertainment.
So, what does it say about movie-goers of this age who seem to never react or applaud what goes on before them? Have we become a society of such jaded cynics that we are numb to the human drama? I suppose the daily exposure to all aspects of life on TV has inured us to the knee-jerk reactions of the past. Familiarity has covered over our identification with (and sympathy for) the plights of those around us. The worst part of this is that our blasé attitudes erode our compassion.
In the spiritual realm this attitude most certainly affects the ways we relate to others, which, ultimately, reflects the ways we relate to You. If we have come to the point where we cannot cry, moan, or sigh over witnessing the unfortunate trials of others; or smile, applaud, or laugh out loud for their happiness, we have extinguished in ourselves the compassion for humanity that so much moved You in Your life and is held forth as a paradigm for ours. The fashion of the world has numbed us!