Have you seen those commercials made by "The Foundation for a Better Life?" In every one of them, it pictures some kind of noteworthy moral value displayed in a life situation. At the end of the commercial, it states the name of the value it is promoting, and urges the viewer to pass it on. The most recent one I've seen is entitled "You Can Let Go" and is promoting the value of "everlasting love." You can watch it here.
Did you cry? I did too. That's not saying much though, I tend to be a softie. Have you ever wondered what the agenda behind these ads are? According to Wikipedia (I know, I'm a lazy researcher), The Foundation for a Better Life was founded in 2000 with a $700 million endowment from Mr. Phillip Anschutz, a wealthy evangelical Christian. More than $10 million was spent on the initial campaign, which funded billboards, signs, and posters, as well as the videos we continue to see on TV. The Foundation neither solicits nor accepts monetary donations from the public. It is not officially affiliated with any religion, instead hoping that "the values we share transcend any particular religion or nationality".
What do I think about these ads? I'm glad you asked. ;)
They are not effective. This is not a personal critique on Mr. Anschutz or anyone involved in the campaign. I do not think these ads hurt or damage society in any way, but I am skeptical about the ability to teach morality via 90 second TV spots. I'm not saying that someone won't walk away from watching one these like the one posted above thinking, "that's nice, I should try to be more loving towards my child/parent." But how long will the emotionally generated resolution last?
As mentioned in my post on depravity, I'm not very optimistic about my or anyone's ability to act moral on our own behalf, regardless of how much a TV ad makes us cry. How many movies have you walked away from feeling excited and inspired, only to find that feeling fade after only a few hours? Dress it up any way you want, inspiring people to be good will only last as long as the feeling of inspiration that you generate. People just don't have the ability to love others "everlastingly" the way this video portrays on their own. Rather, those who know and follow Jesus can say that "we love others because He first loved us (1 John 4:19)."
In today's diverse society, It is tempting to have an attitude that says, "hey, it doesn't matter who you are, where you are from, or what you believe, let's all just try our best to pass along good values and we will be fine." Unfortunately, that does not seem to be working. When people fail to love others, it isn't because they haven't seen a commercial that properly showed them how to do it. It is because they do not have the love of Christ in their lives. That doesn't mean Christians love perfectly. It means that they are perfectly loved, and have a divinely given ability to love others in this same way. Like all abilities, it is not always used to its potential, but at least the potential is there.
If the Foundation for a Better Life wants to continue to make ads, that's fine. I enjoy a good cry every now and then.