During late evenings and rushed lunch hour breaks from my full time work at Harvard University, I moonlight as the host of a TV show. Biweekly, I am entrusted with writing, co-producing, and presenting on a half-hour cable TV show called "The Lens" which reaches 12+ million households in the United States and Canada, live streams online, and is available for download on Roku and Apple TV.
It is a giant digital soapbox that I step upon and happily share musings on faith and culture. Over the years, the show has developed a steady audience and created an engaging dialogue on issues of importance - all while having a little fun in the process.
Yet with anything that is both habit and a secondary priority, it is very easy for complacency to sink in. You start improvising more, "phoning in" your scripts, and not taking the work as seriously as you should. You start to treat the show as work, and not service to others. You lose sight of the humbling fact that you have a TV show and you are thoroughly wasting precious airtime with silliness and empty frivolity - when, now more than ever, the world needs messages of love and examples of people taking a stand to empower universal kindness and care.
In the midst of my slump, an executive order is released that brings great amounts of pain to so many. It is from a bigger soapbox and ignites a global conversation on how we as human beings should treat our displaced brothers and sisters. At that moment, a fire is lit inside of me. I decide to blow up the show format and add a new segment called "Unheard Voices." I realize that there is too much talking "about" refugees and not "to" refugees. That there is far more tip-toeing around sensitive subjects and not enough ownership of an opinion. I stay up a little later that night to write my script, and along with my fantastic production team, we work hard in securing an interview with an Iraqi refugee for the next show.
Two days later, I still scoot away on my Thursday lunch break, tie my tie, attempt to tame my hair -- and reaffirm that being in service of others is at the heart of loving others. And that this show, the small soapbox I humbly rent from the good people of CatholicTV, must be embraced and nurtured to spread love over the digital airways.
And then, when all that is done, you do your best to scream loud enough so that you and the voices you invite upon the soapbox can be heard, along with a collective and much needed love shared in service.
Laith, an Iraqi Muslim refugee living in Boston and working with Catholic Charities, speaks to Matt Weber about his experience and how he spends his time here in the United States.
In case we need a reminder from our Sunday School days, Matt Weber has three pillars of humanity for us to keep in mind as we think about the refugee crisis in particular.
For more musings on love, Matt Weber invites you to read: Operating on Faith (Loyola Press 2016).