Picture a village. There is no plumbing, no indoor running water. In the center of the town there is a community drinking well. Each day the people of the village come to the well with their buckets to draw the fresh water that they will use to drink, do their cooking, and do their bathing. Everyone in the village is invested in keeping the well clean because they all know that everyone in their family and all of the their friends and neighbors depend on the water for their sustenance.
Now imagine that an inventor comes to live in the village...
He has a wonderful new invention that entertains all the people. All of the adults in the village want one of the new inventions for their very own. They have never seen anything like it and they are all very excited. Then a few out-of-towners show up, and start using the invention to dump a teeny bit of tainted ice into the well, but the people of the village hardly notice. They can’t taste it and it makes the water cooler, so it seems like a fair enough trade for enjoying the wonders of this new invention.
With each passing day the people of the village become more and more dependent upon the invention. They find more and newer uses for it and it begins to take on greater significance in their lives and they spend more time with it. Gradually there are more out-of-towners and even a few locals dumping tainted ice in to the well. The people of the village begin to notice a little bit of a difference in the taste of their water but the change happens so incrementally that they get used to it.
Then, slowly, some of the members of the community start to get sick. Others in the village say, “Well, he must not be taking good care of himself because it’s not affecting me.” Meanwhile, more and more tainted ice is dumped into the water. By now the children have learned how to use the invention and they spend as much or more time with it than the adults do. Now everyone is dependent on the invention. The children do not have the same level of resistance to the toxins in the water as the adults and they start to become sick as well. Some of these children will have permanent side effects from ingesting the polluted water.
A small group of villagers start to raise objections to the dumping of the toxic ice into the water supply. Still, most people do nothing, and the number of those becoming sick continues to grow. “It is not affecting me that much,” they reason, “so there is no reason for me to do anything.” And then one day the contamination levels in the water reach a hazardous tipping point and the villagers realize that the water is poisoned - no longer safe for anyone. They need to take action or else life as they know it will not be sustainable.
The well in the middle of that village is our culture. It is a well we all must drink from if we live and work and play in the same “civilization.” The invention is the computer and all its permutations – the lap top, the cell phone, the iPad – that put the world wide web at our fingertips. The poison in the well – the well our children are drinking from, the well we are all drinking from – is pornography. It is no longer cool. And it is making us sick. It is causing us to be users of people. It is causing the abuse of children. It is causing people to be trafficked for sex. It is killing love. It is distorting intimacy. It is destroying families. It is causing depression. It is causing impotence. It is causing people to self-harm. It is calling us to the worst that is in us.
The time has come to clean the well. Because the people drinking from it are our loved ones. They are our husbands and wives, our sisters and brothers, and our daughters and sons.