Around 140 BC Roman politicians discovered that the best way to tame an unruly populous was to offer them cheap food and entertain them with bloody spectacles. The cheap food was bread or grains, the spectacle was violent chariot races called Circuses.
The people of Rome were easily distracted from the serious matters facing the Empire, by spectacular entertainment that often resulted in bloody painful deaths for the participants.
What does this have to do with Charlie Sheen?
It seems that we have not lost our taste for spectacular entertainment (and if there is a chance of the bloody death or at least metaphorical bloody death of the participant all the better) and we are still easily distracted from the serious nature of the times we are living in.
The world is in crisis. There are thousands of people dying right now as you read this. Some from natural disaster, some from illness, many from starvation, and some are being killed by their own governments because they dare to disagree.
And what are we doing?
We are busy being entertained.
The more serious the problems of our world become, the more we wish to eat our cheap food, and be entertained by the cheap spectacle. Why are we so determined to avoid facing the hard problems of our society? Why on earth would we care more about what Charlie Sheen is doing or saying, than about what we might do to help the people of Japan, New Zealand, Australia, Lybia, China, (and the list goes on)? I was shocked on the weekend to see that on Yahoo and Google Charlie Sheen was trending higher than the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear disaster that is assaulting Japan.
We still, obviously, live in a time of Bread and Circuses. I wonder, how long this need to be entertained going outstrip our humanity? When will we pull our heads out of our TV's and see the world for what it is. Or are we going to entertain ourselves past the point of rescue, and into oblivion?