Don’t Ignore the Need for Entertainment
TOO LITTLE IS AS BAD AS TOO MUCH
IN TIMES past when the work ethic was held in high regard, many viewed play as a waste of time. Now the pursuit of pleasure is for many the main purpose in life. However, work and play should balance each other.
The right kind of work gives meaning and purpose to life. Proper play refreshes the tired worker, is a welcome change that re-creates a zest for more work. Too much work over too long a time exhausts the body and depresses the spirit. Extended vacations that go beyond the refreshment needed become boring. Don’t overdo the one while ignoring the other.
We should not make the mistake that the Puritans did and view all fun as wrong. Eating is not to be condemned because of gluttony. Drinking is not outlawed because of drunkenness. Nor should entertainment be frowned on because extremists abuse it. Our concern should not be rejecting entertainment, but, rather, determining the right kinds and the right amounts.
Enjoying the Outdoors
People are turning to beaches, mountains and parks in such vast numbers that in some places overcrowding is becoming a problem. Yet these areas do offer an infinite variety of entertainment—walking, swimming, jogging, backpacking, camping, picnicking, nature study, and so on.
But it is not necessary to travel such distances. Many live where woods are nearby. Even in the backyard, birdhouses and bird-feeding stations can be erected. Or lie on your stomach sometime and observe a square foot of grass or weeds, and you will be amazed at all the activity of bugs and ants and spiders that will fascinate you. Do you live in a big city, an asphalt jungle? Even there, parks and zoos are available. Museums and planetariums delight and instruct.
Parents, plan such activities for your children. Give them some direction, some stimulus by pointing out the possibilities. Maybe you can tell them the life cycle of a butterfly or an ant. Satisfy your children’s curiosity about Jehovah’s creation. This is an entertaining way of interesting your children in Jehovah God and his earthly creations, teaching them about his purpose for earth and for them as earth’s caretakers. Do as Job 12:7-10 recommends: “Ask, please, the domestic animals, and they will instruct you; also the winged creatures of the heavens, and they will tell you. Or show your concern to the earth, and it will instruct you; and the fishes of the sea will declare it to you.”
Sometimes work itself is a recreation. A man working in an office, or a student poring over books all week, may find working in the yard relaxing, or the establishing of a small garden a satisfying project. Even in a big city there might be a small plot of ground available. Or a window box where some flowers or herbs might be grown. Many people find indoor plants a fascinating hobby that adds beauty to the home. Canaries or other birds may be kept indoors. Aquariums are fascinating projects.
There are many ways of bringing Jehovah’s interesting creations indoors for study and entertainment. Here again it is a matter of using some imagination, and of parents directing the interests of children into the various possibilities.
Small children delight in making mud pies! Mothers are not too enthused about this, however. But it is simply dirt, and water easily eliminates it. This fun can be turned into a hobby as the child gets a little older. The mud can become clay and the pie can become pottery. This is quite an interesting handicraft, one long practiced with great instinctive skill by different members of the wasp family. (One is even called “the potter wasp.”) Other hobbies could be making macrame hangers for flowerpots, projects in sewing, knitting, cooking, leatherwork involving braiding and embossing, and many others.
“Window shopping” is an activity that makes many strong men tremble, but many women and girls relish it. Mothers can even make it instructive. Prices, quality, bargains and economic principles can be discussed. It is also an inexpensive excursion, especially if it is indulged in when the stores are closed.
Another interesting source of entertainment that is also educational is visiting factories. Take the family through a printing establishment, a newspaper office, a textile plant, a chocolate factory, an automobile plant or a coal mine. Many factories conduct tours, and to see how many everyday products are manufactured is extremely interesting and entertaining. A trip through a steel mill, for example, could easily become the subject for a written or oral report in the classroom.
Strictly for Fun
Entertainment does not always have to be educational. It may be just for the fun of it. This will also have value. It will recreate and refresh both young and old for the more serious affairs of life.
However, people’s interests differ. What interests one may bore another. A person’s sex can also make a difference in his or her interests. Also one’s age! Older persons should not think the young will always be content to sit and talk or read or play checkers just because they are. Teen-agers are bursting with energy that needs release. They may crave a game of baseball, volleyball, badminton, handball, basketball, soccer, or some other active recreation.
Maybe two or more families can go to the park and have a picnic. Afterward those who wish may visit and talk, others with pent-up energy may release it by means of one of these games. If there is good-natured competition no harm is done; but if winning becomes all-important then arguments are raised and the fun is spoiled.
Smaller children may find swings to play on, or a sandbox to use. Even empty cartons or a few sticks or blocks of wood become houses or caves, or airplanes or cars, or whatever the children’s active imagination chooses to make them. Many times expensive toys lie idle as children spend all afternoon on a sandpile or playing with a large carton, their imaginations turning these into whatever suits their fancy of the moment. A plastic fire truck costing 20 dollars is always a fire truck. But a big cardboard box—Ah! that can be anything!
Adults enjoy watching children play, or watching the ball game others are playing, and maybe even joining in as they feel up to it. Families together in this way become better families, more closely knit, and generation gaps are avoided. Also, this arrangement provides for supervision where it is needed. If all are in agreement as to the worship of their Creator, then the spoiling of good habits by bad association is avoided. (1 Cor. 15:33) Congregations may increase in brotherly love and understanding when families not only study and preach together but also enjoy clean recreation together.
Music and Dancing
Some family members may be musically inclined. Learning to play an instrument is challenging and satisfying, and may also become a source of entertainment to listeners. If two or three or more from Christian families do this, they may eventually play together both for their enjoyment and for the pleasure of listeners. Others may even wish to dance to the music that is played.
There is nothing wrong with music, singing or instrumental, or with dancing. Instrumental music and singing were involved in Jehovah’s worship in Israel. Young and old danced to music, sometimes singly and at other times in group dances. (Ex. 15:20; Ps. 87:7; 149:3; 150:4; Judg. 11:34; Jer. 31:13; Matt. 11:17; Luke 15:25) On one of these occasions an objection was raised to vigorous dancing, but not with Jehovah’s approval.—2 Sam. 6:20.
However, dancing is like the eating and drinking mentioned earlier: it may be good or bad, depending on the control exercised. Music may be soft and flowing, or it may have a strong beat, but it should not be raucous or so loud that it endangers a person’s hearing or disturbs others. The dancing is not good or bad depending on whether it is slow or fast, but if it becomes sexually suggestive or stimulating, it goes beyond proper entertainment!
Experience has established the need of proper supervision for such occasions, not, of course, to curtail proper clean, innocent fun but to curb extremes that imperil Christian morality. Even the waltz can become immoral in certain environments. Folk dances, square dances and most modern dances can be properly enjoyed, but, in wrong surroundings, they can also degenerate.
Reading and Conversation
There are good books and magazine articles that can entertain, but there are also those that damage morality. The latter should “not even be mentioned among you” who are Christians. The standard should be those things that are true, virtuous and praiseworthy.—Eph. 5:3; Phil. 4:8.
The same guideline would apply to movies and television. There are still some motion pictures that are clean and properly entertaining, but they are becoming the exception rather than the rule. Many television programs still are relaxing and educational. Documentaries cover science, natural history, current happenings and other interesting fields. They, along with good reading, equip us to converse enjoyably with one another.
Converse? Yes, conversation is not dead. The desire for it is still shown by the popularity of television talk shows. But many people seem no longer able to converse interestingly. They talk but do not communicate stimulating thoughts and ideas. However, even such persons can be drawn out to reveal interesting facts about themselves. Their childhood, their first job, why they decided on their particular career, how they came to accept their religion—questions drawing them out on such topics result in surprisingly interesting conversations.
If we are perceptive, courteous, tactful and sincerely complimentary, others who normally are quiet will respond and communicate freely. Being interested in them makes you interesting to them. Soon a two-way, or four- or six-way conversation is flowing along, to the enjoyment of all participants. Conversation fascinated the Greeks and their visitors in the first century of our Common Era: “All Athenians and the foreigners sojourning there would spend their leisure time at nothing but telling something or listening to something new.”—Acts 17:21.
Read, observe, listen, think and you will have fresh new thoughts to contribute to entertaining conversations. Avoid being argumentative or dogmatic. That kills communication. Be pleasant and tasteful, a delightful conversationalist.—Prov. 15:1; 16:21-24; 25:11; Eccl. 12:10; Col. 4:6.
In conclusion, don’t just deny objectionable entertainment. Give suitable alternatives. If your religion blanketly condemns all entertainment, your children will leave you and it as soon as possible. So don’t leave an entertainment vacuum. (Matt. 12:43-45) The following article offers additional entertainment possibilities.