‘Fame-starved’ society is sick

A new “reality” TV show, called “Famous in 12”, seems to sum up the new American Dream: The CW Network series “challenges a fame-starved family to reach celebrity status in 12 weeks,” USA Today tells us.

It’s all about reaching “celebrity status”; how it’s achieved is a niggling detail. It’s all about feeding the “fame-starved.”

Such a notion implies, of course, that fame is a nutrient, an essential part of a healthy life. And of course it’s the opposite. People who desire fame, (or “celebrity status” if we must), in and of itself, have something missing in their life. Because the “fame-starved” include not just those who trek to Los Angeles in search of their celebrity manna, but those troubled people who believe killing people will bring them “fame.”

Jon Meis, the young man who stopped the shooter who killed one person and injured two at Seattle Pacific University last week, is the antithesis of the “fame-starved.” Meis, a student security monitor and teaching assistant at the university, was thrown into the spotlight after his bravery. Meis, in turn, at every turn, has steered the attention away from himself, and toward the victims. Clearly overwhelmed by the media and public attention (in addition to financial donations, supporters bought everything Meis and his fiance had listed on their wedding registry), Meis issued a statement through SPU that thanked people, but asked them to send donations to the victims and their families.

Showing his character, Meis writes: “In the midst of this attention, we cannot ignore that a life was taken from us, ruthlessly and without justification or cause. Others were badly injured, and many more will carry this event with them the rest of their lives. Nonetheless, I would encourage that hate be met with love. When I came face to face with the attacker, God gave me the eyes to see that he was not a faceless monster, but a very sad and troubled young man.”

“Not a faceless monster, but a very sad and troubled young man.”

When one of these shootings happens, (and they happen regularly) the question is always posed: What was his motivation? Like it would explain anything. The anger, loneliness and alienation inside such people did its work long before a trigger is pulled. They are (or were) all sad and troubled young men.

Add in easy access to guns, and we all know the outcome. But not the prevention. Jon Meis advises: “I would encourage that hate be met with love.” And if loneliness and sadness are also met with love, perhaps we can ward off some hate, and/or lust for fame.

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