So three teens in Oklahoma are bored. And now we all know what they chose to do for entertainment. Kill somebody. Just anybody. I am hearing an outcry about gun control (but not kid control), about “what is wrong with kids these days” (rather than what are parents doing to raise such kids), ranting about the violence and mind numbing features of video games, and I am sure my list is not complete. We hear calls for war on gangs, war on guns, war on violence (irony limits reached yet?), but where is the public outcry against boredom?
Maybe its because the whole issue of boredom is fairly new to the world. I will let the Smithsonian educate you on the history of boredom. I am not implying that men have not been bored before the recent past, just that only recently have we felt it was bad, even “wrong” to be bored. And I believe it is connected with the soul of man.
I believe God made us to work, to create, to care for others and for things. The Garden before the Fall was a place of occupation and action, not a “boring” place. Boredom seems to strike man when he has gotten waylaid, stopped in the action of life with nothing to occupy him. I have often considered the story of Socrates standing all day in the agora thinking about something – that is not a man who can be easily bored! And then I consider many kids today who five minutes into almost anything seem overcome by the plague of boredom, and use the term as a weapon: “Mom! I’m bored! What can I do?”
Perhaps I am simply not attuned to boredom because I am only child. I always have been able to keep myself occupied. But somewhere along in the past century, we stopped solving boredom and started feeding it. Again, I go back to the soul of man. If there is nothing going on in the soul of a man, or if he has had his soul sucked out his sensory gates by so much noise and clatter all about him, then silence, stillness, “having nothing to do but think” is unimaginably horrifying. We feel we must fill the void with anything.
And that brings my rant back to the Okies. “We were bored” as a defense for killing a man? Folks, if we value our lives we need to take up arms against this boredom thing. It could become an epidemic. But how do you inoculate the young against it? One author famously felt that a drug could do it: read quotes from Brave New World here. But we know that a drug high does not last. You come down, and the next time is not as good. Eventually, boredom with it sets in, and then what?
Eye candy cannot do it. Television, video games, going to the movies, all become the same after a while.
Sports, music, it would seem any endeavor runs the risk of becoming boring. Because it is not the activity, but its affect upon the soul that determines its “boredom potential.” Again, I believe we all will be bored from time to time, but we must cultivate souls that can be happily occupied with truly eternal and permanent things. The boys in Oklahoma apparently were lacking “stimulus” so they sought it in a very wrong way.
Education is ultimately about appetites. Ordering the affections will direct a person’s mind to that which is true, and good, and beautiful. Not to shoot someone out of boredom.
“you do look glum! What you need is a gramme of soma.”