Gardening and home improvement programs on TV are very popular.
There is the established variety: reality garden and home makeovers. The program makers search for a very lousy garden and an unfortunate looking home, offer the owner the opportunity to get a new garden and home, and the quick-and-easy job is done in about half an hour’s viewing time, less if you take advertising into account. The owners have to go away for a day, and when they return everything has changed.
There is a new slant on this type of reality TV: the makers of these programs are not only looking for a lousy garden; they also look out for someone with a very bad experience in life, or someone who really “deserve something better”, especially if these people volunteered time and effort into the community.
Some time is then spent in informing the viewer of the unhappiness or good works of the person, usually with a tear or two. Then the makeover follows, with of course, more tears at the end of the program.
There is a certain philosophy behind these programs that needs our attention.
We certainly need to have compassion with people with disabilities, and also with others who are doing it tough. We certainly need to be thankful for those who give of their talents, time and efforts to the wider community.
But no one really deserves anything! Having compassion is immensely more than feeling sorry. TV programs excels in making the viewer feel sorry – and somewhat guilty – about the fact that they might be better off than others.
Which is of course where the TV itself steps in as the modern day Robin Hood. Not only does the participants in the program get more than what they “deserve”, they also get facials, spa baths, limousine transport – you name it. And everything they get is usually “really good”, “fantastic” or “unbelievable” – that is, by the standard of those who provide the service.
In the meantime the marketers excel in “product placing”: they have their name or logo (very overtly and blatantly!) written on every car, delivery truck, hair salon, nail polish, piece of furniture, etc.
The deserving participants are brought back to their new home and garden with new hairstyles and new outfits, and those who provided the deserved facelift to the place get the praise for the outcome they provided for the victims of fate, or the slaving volunteers.
These “service providers”, after all, deserve recognition for being to handsomely open-handed (and commercially prudent)!
Are these TV presenters and producers anything more than modern day Pharisees who love to show off their good works, but in the meantime promote all sorts of other sins, especially if it is presented as freedom of choice, irrespective of morality?
Did our Lord not say that if we do good our left hand should not even know what our right hand is doing?
We need to understand that we deserve nothing. What we have, what we are and what we will have is all just by the grace of God. If our Christian love and empathy drives us to care for other s- and it should! – let’s do not with the view to get praise or benefit out of it. After all, we do it as unto the Lord!