This morning I received an invitation to a game which simply asked if I was bored. Then I began thinking, which I know is a dangerous activity, has mankind always struggled with boredom. I can’t quite see the Native Americans being bored in their scraping out a survival on the American Plains. I have a hard time believing that a viking turned to his fellow sailor in the middle of a voyage and declared, “This is sooo boring”. So when did this concept take root? After a bit of study I found out that the first appearance of the word boredom came about in the mid-1800’s in a Charles Dickens novel. Upon further study I discovered that the concept was directly pulled from the idea that the task of boring a hole, for instance with a drill, was a very tedious and dulling task and thus the idea that something was boring came along. But let’s think about the timing of this concept a bit. Charles Dickens was a great commentator on the effects of the Industrial Revolution and maybe he was onto something by highlighting the onset of this word which is so overused in today’s culture. With the rise of the Industrial Revolution mankind, at least in the Western world, all of a sudden felt the need to be entertained. Many processes that were necessary to survival had become streamlined and made easier and thus there was a void that was destined to be filled with entertainment.
Now, fast-forward 150 years. From the steam engine to the electric car. From the Victrola to the i Pod. We now are surrounded by some of the most amazing stuff ever witnessed since the dawn of man and yet one of the most common utterances, especially among the students who I get the pleasure to minister to, is, “I’m Bored”. What has happened? We have more resources and devices to entertain us than ever before in history and we are “bored”? Maybe we have too much…Maybe we have forgotten to marvel at some of the things around us that actually deserve our attention. How many of us have woken before the sun in order to stare in to a vast starry sky? How many of us have paused to look at the intricate detail in a fallen leaf? How many of us have even stopped to ponder the extreme precision with which we move and breathe and even exist? Maybe the issue isn’t that we are bored, but maybe that we are so over-stimulated that we have lost sight of the extravagance of life all around us.
Psalm 8:3-4 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?