If you’re a parent or grandparent reading this column, you’ve most likely felt the onslaught of media images of sexuality, violence, and coarse behavior that seem to bombard families today. While we often feel helpless against the wave of media, advertising, and corporate messages we see, the truth is, we can impact those messages if we do it with wisdom. Not so long ago, lingerie retailer “Victoria’s Secret” announced they would back off their “sexy” image after consumers complained and business declined. Even their recent Super Bowl commercial was more subdued, and it now appears the company feels it has crossed the line between “sexy” and “sleazy.”
How did this change happen?
Customer opinions matter. While the decision also reflected poor sales results, the company admitted that customer complaints had a significant impact. I’ve discovered that when people call or write and express their feelings about an issue like this, in most cases, companies will respond in a positive way. Don’t be a jerk, or on a moral high horse, just express a logical reason why it’s in their best interest to respond.
A few years ago, a local sign company put up very inappropriate and sexually suggestive bus stop ad outside our local high school where my daughters attended. When I called the sign company and graciously expressed my concern about exposing high school age kids to that message, they responded immediately and had them replaced within 2 hours.
When it comes to your local community, you can make a real impact for morality and values, but here are some important keys to consider:
1) Don’t be afraid to express your faith in the community. Because of recent court rulings regarding church and state, too many Christians shy away from speaking out publically about anything remotely religious. But your personal faith is something you have the right to express. If you have questions, you can ask a Christian attorney for advice, or contact the American Center for Law and Justice (www.aclj.org) for information.
2) Be gracious when you contact a company or public official. Too many Christians become bullies when it comes to expressing their opinion. Stop arguing with people, and begin developing a relationship of compassion and trust. If we’re going to be an effective witness in today’s world, we have to begin with a gracious relationship and act out of genuine love.
3) Be confident but courteous at your office or school about expressing your faith. The fine legal line about expressions of religious belief at our workplace and at public schools is often difficult to navigate, but in many cases, people who crossed the line, did it without asking for advice or counsel. During holidays for instance, talk to the school principal or ask your boss if you can set a nativity scene or other religious object on your desk. I’ve discovered that when we approach people in a spirit of love, God often works in those situations for our good. And even if your request is rejected, how you handle that rejection can sometimes be a greater witness than what you hoped to accomplish in the first place.
Become a media activist. Not in a controlling or pushy way, but start sharing your concerns about local advertising or corporations that violate your personal or moral convictions. You’ll often be amazed and the number of people in your community who feel the same way but were afraid to act.