You probably saw the headline this past week: Bill and Melinda Gates are getting a divorce.
You probably saw the headline a couple of weeks ago: Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, died. Maybe you even watched his funeral on TV like millions of others.
There is a great deal of interest in the Gates’ divorce because of their enormous philanthropic impact in the world.
There is great interest in the death of Prince Philip because of his high profile presence in the royal family.
Still, I found it interesting that both of these events garnered such media attention. A divorce and a death.
Each day in America, 6,646 couples get divorced. Each day throughout the world, 150,000 people die. Yet this divorce and this death warranted headline news. What about all of the others?
No divorce is easy. Each one has a story. No death is easy. Each one has a story. Most people don’t broadcast that they are getting a divorce and most funerals are not broadcast throughout the world. Yet these were. Does that mean that the Gates and Prince Philip are more worthy, more deserving, or at least more special somehow?
Fame. It is a fascinating reality of human nature. Whether by means of wealth or social connection, some people are famous while others are not.
This has always struck me as odd because each person you pass on the street works through the same struggles and strives for the same contentment as the people we’ve decided are famous. You do too. Yet, the peaks and valleys of most people’s lives are noteworthy only to themselves and their loved ones.
I, for one, prefer it that way and many “famous” people would probably rather it be that way for them as well. But we’ve decided—somewhat randomly it seems to me—that some people’s lives need to be an open book for the world to read and to judge.
Millions of people like to follow the lives of famous people whether they are actors, athletes, politicians, or royalty. It’s always been that way. That’s why it feels like human nature. But our faith calls us to remember that God loves everyone equally and we should treat everyone equally as a consequence. If we truly did that, no one would be famous. Or maybe everyone would be famous but I doubt it because the other virtue we are called to is humility which should, if genuinely practiced, negate fame entirely.
A divorce and a death. Special people are enduring these hardships. I doubt that it helps them to have millions crowding around them; hungry for every detail. That isn’t compassionate support. It’s just voyeurism.
Special people are also enduring the 6,646 divorces that happened today and the 150,000 deaths that happened today. To each of these, famous or not, our most authentic response should be our prayers and our comfort, not our curiosity.