Early in my days in government and politics, a wise mentor said, “Culture is upstream from politics.”
What that means is this: movies, music, books, schools and the like ultimately shape our laws far more than vice-versa.
I’ve seen that to be deeply true, from the California Statehouse to the White House.
Yes, good laws and policies are vital to a thriving society. And thank God for the many thoughtful people trying to do the right thing in government. But the simple truth is that elections, legislatures and policies rarely create social trends; usually, they simply reflect them.
So a powerful movie can be more important than a political campaign. A song that tops the charts can matter more in the long-run than a Supreme Court ruling.
I was intrigued when a friend who leads CAFO member Rice Bowls – John Ramantanin—shared with me last year plans to create a simple video game to help kids think about the issue of global hunger.
The game was recently released: Hunger Crunch (its catchy video trailer is below). It’s one of the most creative ways I’ve ever seen to get people thinking about human needs…and simultaneously raise funds to help feed hungry children.
Certainly, some might question whether game-playing is an appropriate means for communicating about an issue like hunger. Or whether a video game can make a lasting difference in a young person’s perspective. (And I’ll confess I’d be the first to urge that kids and all the rest of us spend far less time peering into screens than we do.)
But in a day when video games are a primary means of both entertainment and education, can we really afford to yield the medium completely to Grand Theft Auto or Call of Duty?
The truth is this: the songs we hum…the storylines that sink into our subconscious….even the simple games we play tend to shape and mold the person we are becoming.
So while a game like Hunger Crunch certainly isn’t the end we seek, it can be a great nudge for both individuals and our culture as whole in the right direction: to know, care and ultimately act in response to the world’s great needs in ways that reflect God’s heart.
Can a simple video game help with that? I’m not entirely sure. But I’d bet money on that means of influence over a new law just about any day of the week.