The Craving for Excitement
“IT’S exciting!” That is the message that sports reporters try to get across to their audiences. They are well aware of the appeal that exciting things have. And often there is indeed a pleasurable feeling about excitement, when your heart beats faster, when you breathe more quickly and when your nerves are set atingling. Without a question, certain things that are exciting can make your life more interesting.
There is, for example, the excitement known to inventors; history records the excitement that the inventions of the telegraph and telephone caused. An outstanding piece of art, be it an opera or a symphony, a painting or a piece of sculpture, can create excitement. And so can viewing such wonders of creation as the Grand Canyon, the Victoria Falls, the Swiss Alps.
Excitement has its place, and we should keep it in its place. It can easily get out of hand and cause us to lose proper perspective, with harm to ourselves. It can become an overpowering craving, and that for the wrong thing. There is nothing wrong with a noble craving, but more often than not it is an unhealthy, selfish desire. Thus the Bible forbids selfishly craving a neighbor’s possessions and it also speaks of the craving of the wicked.—Deut. 5:21; Ps. 140:8; Prov. 10:3.
The Excitement of Speed
Among the ways in which many modern youths seek to satisfy their craving for excitement is by driving their cars at reckless speeds. This pastime has become so popular that there is a magazine, Hot Rod, that is devoted to the sport. No question about it, there is a thrill in moving fast over the ground, but is it worth risking your life for the sake of enjoying that excitement? Young men pay the highest insurance rates. Why? Not necessarily because of their lack of skill, but because the craving for excitement makes so many of them take foolish chances. All too often this results in accidents and death.
This desire for speed and the excitement associated with danger also accounts for the great crowds that watch auto races. These, too, time and again, are marred by fatal accidents.
Other Sports Events
Auto racing is but one of many kinds of sports events to which people flock to satisfy their craving for excitement. Among others are boxing, wrestling and tennis matches, football, basketball and baseball games, not to say anything about the allure of bullfighting and of the Olympics. And many times greater is the number of those who watch such events on TV.
Concerning those reporting on such sports events, a West German sociologist, associated with a Swiss college, stated: “They turn their reporting into a manipulation of emotions, the kind of emotions that make fanatics out of players and spectators and turn stadiums into battlefields.” And, he warns, “the more the mass media succeed in emotionally arousing players and spectators, the greater the danger of negative, aggressive reactions on the part of both.”—Sports Illustrated, October 1, 1973.
The Gambling Fever
Gambling is a worldwide activity and goes back thousands of years. While many who gamble give various reasons for it, such as wanting to gain money, actually most gamblers seek what is referred to as “the strange tension” experienced in the game. Yes, “the craving for this strange thrill frequently overshadows the desire to win,” it is reported. In fact, according to the book Gambling (edited by R. D. Herman of Pomona, California College), the “more intelligent gamblers stress the irrational motive in gambling: the thrill component”; “thrill” being just another term for excitement.
Because of their craving for this thrill, gamblers will borrow money after they are broke so as to gamble still more. And it is also why they can hardly ever be content with having won a sum, but at once they turn around and lose it. What apparently drives them on is their craving for the gambling thrill.
And what bitter fruits are reaped! To pay for their gambling losses, men embezzle funds from banks or other firms that employ them. Public officials become obligated to underworld characters because of their gambling debts, which debts, at times, cost the lives of the gamblers as victims of murder or suicide. Even an apparently harmless game such as bingo represents an enormous loss in time and money by reason of the fact that so many housewives are addicted to it. Like those to whom the Bible refers, they neglect God Almighty to set a table for their god called “Good Luck.”—Isa. 65:11.
Resorting to Drugs
Others, including many youths, turn to drugs for excitement. Starting with marijuana, which gives them a pleasurable feeling, they go on to more powerful drugs in their craving for greater excitement. Many rock ’n’ roll artists resort to drugs to create excitement and to encourage the use of drugs in others—all of which results in harm to body, mind and morals.
And what a terrible price the drug addict pays for his craving for excitement! He becomes a slave to narcotics and often turns to muggings and robbery or, if a female, to shoplifting and prostitution. Such leading rock ’n’ roll artists as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones paid with their lives for their drug addiction. The Bible speaks of some as being ‘slaves to sin,’ and when a person becomes “hooked” on hard drugs he certainly is such a pitiful slave.—Rom. 6:16.
The Excitement of Breaking God’s Laws
In ancient Rome the gory battles of the gladiators satisfied the craving of the populace for excitement. And today ever so many people want to see and hear things that are likewise shocking, horrible, blood-curdling. Movies and TV programs glorify violence and make heroes out of murderers and rapists, all to feed the craving of their audiences for excitement.
People also find excitement in doing that which violates their ethics or moral principles. Thus there are women who make a habit of shoplifting, not because of wanting or needing the articles they steal, but for the “kick,” the excitement, that goes with stealing and getting away with it. Yes, excitement goes with pursuing activities that are forbidden. The very fact that they are forbidden causes them to seem desirable to many.
Typical is the appeal that illicit sex has. It promises excitement because of what is involved and because of what it might lead to as well as because of the intense selfish pleasure expected. So single and married persons toy with immorality and go on to commit fornication or adultery. This craving for excitement causes others to engage in unnatural or perverted acts. Thus some Christian women complain because their husbands want them to become parties in sodomy and oral sex. Needless to say, perverted, unnatural practices are far from expressing love, affection and tenderness for each other. All such sensual behavior is repeatedly condemned in God’s Word.—Rom. 1:24-32; Jas. 4:1, 3.
Nor to be overlooked is the role that rock music plays in youths’ craving for excitement. As reported in the New York Sunday News, May 13, 1973, rock is an “unholy trinity of . . . violence, sex and noise.” Another writer puts it this way: “Three things distinguish rock—the relentless beat, the freedom of conception and the overpowering volume. . . . Together with the pulsing, driving beat, it creates passionate excitement, an almost sexual tension—one wants to move, to dance.” According to one rock fan, “the loudness makes you feel wild, it blows your mind.”
Regarding this feeding of the audience’s craving for excitement, one leading rock star said: “Time will come when somebody will have to be killed onstage to ‘get’ [satisfy] the audience. Kids are interested in the same things that have always excited them—sex and violence. That’s what they want, that’s what they’ll pay to see.” With such a musical diet, is it any wonder that crime is increasing even faster among youths than among adults?
Counteracting the Craving for Excitement
Truly the craving for excitement that goes to extremes on the one hand and, on the other hand, expresses itself in loose or lawless conduct is to be avoided. How can you counteract it? One way is by soberly reasoning on the subject. Good judgment recommends moderation, even as does the Bible.—1 Tim. 3:2, 11.
The upbuilding things of life can also provide excitement, but in a wholesome way. This has been the experience of the Christian witnesses of Jehovah. Thus, one of them recently wrote the Watch Tower Society: “I also want to thank you brothers for your labor in producing the most exciting publication I‘ve ever read . . . Naturally I‘m speaking of God’s Kingdom of a Thousand Years Has Approached.”
These Witnesses also find attending assemblies, and especially the larger ones, exciting. They likewise find it exciting when in their house-to-house preaching work they find people groping for God and hungering and thirsting for righteousness. And they also find excitement in learning new truths regarding God’s purposes.
Yes, things of the spirit, not only those appealing to the natural man, can bring the pleasure of excitement. And these things of the spirit promise not only temporary, but eternal blessings that are without regrets.—Prov. 10:22.