The Moral Imperative of Spending Your Time Wisely,
and the First Small Step: Getting Rid of Cable TV
This is a guest post by SN in Florida and entry for our non-fiction writing contest.
For each of us, the revelation is different. For many, September 11 woke us up to the threats to our civilization. For others, it was the economic crash that we are still in where many of us woke up to found that the major investment of our lives – our home – was worth half of what we paid for it. When that day comes, you realize that the time you are given on this earth should be spent wisely. You realize that your precious time is being filled with frivolity and trivia and that our country is daydreaming into its decline and bankruptcy.
I. The advent of a trivia society.
What are the great trends in our world today? Well, Christians are being systematically eliminated in muslim dominated societies, yet hardly any attention is being paid in the West to this world shaping event. This is detailed in Raymond Ibrahim’s book Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians. In science, how many of us have heard of the 2005 Huygens probe? We have actual pictures from the surface of Titan, a moon of Saturn. Yet a YouTube page lists only a few thousand views of this incredible scientific achievement. Justin Beiber’s latest video, meanwhile, has millions of views. Our citizens, the guardians of the American tree of liberty, are today wallowing in the bread and circus’s of the mass media.
Our country was founded at the height of the enlightenment by men versed in the traditions of the West. The United States Constitution, the pinnacle of achievement of the governance of man, was earnestly debated at the founding by a society versed in the language of history. Yet today, history is being sidelined and politicized in favor of “gender and ethnic studies” departments and similar political indoctrination. Our most richly endowed colleges are being systematically targeted for takeover by the radical left, shouting down competing ideas in places where the marketplace of ideas is supposed to be the most free. The material wealth of Western society has created this luxury of delusion.
Many of us, whom I could refer to as the “Non-Consenters,” might suggest that we confront the modern sins that have exposed problems in the founding document by amending that great instrument. Perhaps patriots would propose a constitutional amendment that states that in order to vote, you cannot be a beneficiary of government largess. Maybe there is a way to amend the commerce clause that has been expanded by the federal government to such an extent that they can regulate everything. I would love to see a spirited debate on improvements such as this that would move us towards a society of greater liberty, building on the founding father’s great work.
But today, could we even have an educated debate on amending or replacing the Constitution given the ignorance towards history and the nature of man? I am afraid that our current society is not capable of engaging in such a discourse. If, for example, our States called a Constitutional convention to amend or replace our current document, most likely what would follow would be a step backwards towards greater tyranny. Given the state of education at our elite schools, mass media and in our political leadership, the populace would hardly be aware of the defeat of liberty.
II. One small step for man.
Ultimately, we have an individual choice into what we fill our minds with. You can choose your own path. While individually we are powerless to effect these larger events, we still do have the freedom of our individual choices. One small step is that your money does not need to be used to support this decline. A simple step my family has taken, and which I would encourage yours to do, is to cut the cable television from your budget.
All of those radical left cable channels are supported by their bundling in a cable package. When these organizations turn against me, my family and everything we believe, I can no longer in good conscience consent. By participating in this scheme, we are funding the machinery of delusion. One thing that brought me to this revelation is my new role as a parent.
It is one thing to watch gooey, marsh mellow TV for yourself, but when I saw my eight year old son beginning to obsess on the latest trivial television shows, I realized that I was setting a bad example. Therefore, I set out on my quest to rid our family of cable TV.
Our family set a policy of not paying for television entertainment. For better or worse, we accepted that internet access is a necessity in today’s business environment. That being said, the addition of cable TV can cost well over $100 a month in access fees. We decided to leverage our internet access into saving on these cable fees. If a movie comes with a price tag, we do not consent.
There are many other benefits to pulling the plug on television. Television news is incredibly inefficient form of communication. One can read many times faster than listen to the spoken word. Does the addition of Tom Brokaw or Matt Lauer add anything to news content? I would suggest that the media’s cult of personality actually detracts from real content. Further, TV is sensationalist and focuses only on news items that have a flashy picture or newsreel associated with it. It may be that this aspect of television news actually encourages spectacular al-qaeda terrorist attacks. The more spectacular the attack, the more likely a terrorist will get free publicity.
As a side note, I am a news junkie. After the 9-11 attacks I noticed that I was getting high amounts of anxiety, even to the point of effecting my sleep. I went to my family doctor who put it to me this way: he could give me a sedative, or I could stop watching television news! The constant replaying of the planes hitting the towers in the news was creating a constant state of danger in my psyche, resulting in high stress.
Taking his advice, I turned off the television and magically, my stress levels were reduced. The fact is that less television equals lower stress levels. I now limit my news intake to free internet only, and only for a designated hour in the morning. Some of my favorite news sources are the great Glenn Reynolds’ blog www.instapundit.com, www.powerlineblog.com and http://pjmedia.com/richardfernandez/.
As a Catholic and devoted Christian, my morning news reading also includes a visit to http://www.usccb.org/bible/. If you read each daily reading every day for three years, you will read the entire Bible. Of course, you can choose your own sources of information – just make sure you examine the source for authority and accuracy. I generally avoid institutional news web sites since the mainstream media institutions are dominated by political correct spin and other unknown motivations.
So what do you do with this big 52″ electronic investment that now dominates your living room? If you must keep it, you can provide content with a one time purchase of a Roku box – a cheap device that connects your television set to your internet connection providing tons of free content.
You can take a look at the content available here: http://www.roku.com/channels/#!browse/movies-and-tv/by-popular If you sign up for Amazon prime, there are loads of free videos, mostly in the education and travel area. Another option is that with many people accessing pay per view, you can buy tons of cheap entertainment DVDs at garage sales. The main thing is not to get caught up in the latest fad and to avoid spending your precious money on trivial entertainment.
M.D. Adds : Don’t bother with Amazon Prime if your goal is free moves and TV, most listed there have a fee of $1.99 for each viewing. Netflix is better and cheaper with a fee of $7.99 per month and unlimited viewing. You can also watch YouTube videos with the Roku 3 player and add channels such as CBN, RT Russia and Glenn Beck. And if you like listening to a babbling talking head then you’ll be happy to know that Alex Jones can also be viewed through your Roku box.
Sometimes, the broader culture intrudes. For example, my son wanted to watch the new Marvel movie Avengers. Unfortunately, it came with a $14 pay per view price tag. We reminded our son of our family policy of not paying for television entertainment. We discussed whether he wished to have his allowance pay for this movie or whether he wanted to watch Captain America for free on Amazon. This approach had the added benefit of bringing our young child into process of controlling his viewing habits. Thankfully, he choose the free movie. Interestingly, he has become very responsible with his purchasing choices since being empowered with his own money. In fact, I thought he would miss the television much more than he actually has. It is Daddy that suffered the withdrawals!
I must admit that our one guilty pleasure are the television shows Survivor and Deadliest Catch. Luckily, these shows can be watched online on a home computer without cost. While my favorite television shows used to be live sports like NFL football and NASCAR, I decided that for $100 a month, I could live without these indulgences.
If you really must see an event, there are “pirate” web sites that you can watch these live events for free (in a greatly reduced quality, mind you). When giving up these indulgences, I found that I could let the sports events play on my computer while I worked on my new leather working hobby. Soon, I discovered that I really wasn’t that interested in the first place, and that these things too fell into the category of trivia. Remember that when the goal is entertainment, and to avoid spending money — especially on monthly fees.
III. Choosing Your Inputs.
Once the haze of the television fades, what do you do with your time? This may sound like a ridiculous question, but as a master of your own destiny, you can either make your own conscious choices, or you can let other people and powers determine how that time is filled. You should examine your expenditures of time and make the choices that you determine are worthwhile. Personally, I wished to become more well-read in certain areas of constitutional law and history. I therefore devoted myself to making a list of the great books that had somehow been overlooked in my public education.
My wife has devoted herself to the study of math, first in order to better her career prospects and second to help my young son as he wrestles with increasingly complex math subjects. We have found the free and web based http://www.khanacademy.org/ a great helper and teacher for math and science subjects (not so much for history). You may choose the study of other practical topics, such as black smithing, welding, home and auto repair, electrical wiring and generation, leather working, carpentry, gun smithing, gardening, water purification … the list is endless. Wouldn’t it be so much better to devote your precious time to knowledge that will protect you and your family in the event of TSHTF?
The internet is an endless supply of books, available for free with a modest amount of effort. Amazon prime again provides an easy access to downloadable books, many of which are free. With the video revolution, used hardback books are ubiquitous and cheap. Note that I maintain all of my survival library in hardback.
In the event of TEOTWAWKI, you will appreciate the easy to access nature of a hardback book. These items do not count as entertainment but as informational survival tools. One of my favorite web sites to acquiring used books is www.abebooks.com. It is a great network of used book stores, often mom and pop operations. I have found that they often undercut Amazon used book prices by factors of ten.
IV. A Personal Epilogue. It has now been about one year since our cable free journey, and I can report that I hardly miss cable. Our family is spending more quality time together, rather than staring at the box in a antisocial stupor. We have more reading time, which we also do together as a family. And as you can see by my contribution here, I now have more time to pursue productive projects such as writing. I would encourage you to break the cable television addition. You have a choice.