13. Violence For Fun?

If the mass media is any indication, in most of the developed societies of the world, we have become beings that no longer love or seek the good and the beautiful.  Massive numbers of our human society no longer value music,  love or happiness– those things are not exciting enough, not thrilling enough. We love to be terrified, horrified, we crave to feel misery and rage and disgust and revulsion. Everywhere in modern society, this powerful trend is perfectly clear. A great many of us, whether we realize it or not, love violence and death. Proof? We celebrate it 24 hours a day in most of  our popular music, film, art, TV and entertainment, and we are relentlessly teaching it to our children with cartoons, commercials, and most pervasive and insidious of all, video games.

I was fortunate to grow up in kinder times that had great music with melodies and meaningful lyrics, and rock ‘n roll that joyfully celebrated life, not death. Singers and songwriters like Crosby Stills Nash and Young, Joni Mitchell, Joan Baez, Loggins and Messina, Allman Brothers, the Beatles, the Eagles, Cat Stevens, James Taylor, and many more, were on my radio and tapes. When I was in my twenties, other less-famous but very good musicians “jammed” in my living room on winter afternoons in Minnesota. The songs and music were mostly about love and life and high hopes and good times together.

Now all young adults’ lives and beliefs are inescapably influenced by “rap” about violence, brutal sex, disrespect, hatred, and murder. Country music still retains most of it’s traditional  style, but most popular music now is not music at all, just shouting, and grunting obscenities with a hard-driving background of drums and noise. The words are all about hatred and rage, grotesque mutilation, rebellion and desolation. I woke up this morning to the clock-radio screaming a “love song” with the lyrics “You cut me open and I can’t stop bleeding,  can’t stop bleeding, can’t stop bleeding… “You cut me open and I can’t stop bleeding LOVE.” Another one says “Everything that kills me makes me feel alive.” Where are we going with this? How did this become our “normal”?

We’ve coined clever catchy names for acts of violence, like “road rage” so that these things are routinely accepted as everyday attitudes in our lives. The concept of road rage has made senseless acts of violence, even murder for no apparent reason, ordinary, expected, and acceptable.

TV shows and ads are crammed with every kind of bizarre violence. An ad for a children’s frosted cereal shows one cute little cereal-bit committing murder and cannibalism on others of its own kind. Why do we need murder and cannibalism to sell children’s cereals? All children are continuously absorbing and processing everything they see, this is their full-time job, and this is how they learn what life is supposed to be.

Crime, especially for revenge, is now high style. Violence for the sake of looking like a winner: “Buy this car and drive it insanely dangerously, and that will make you a really cool guy.” What happened to selling the product itself, instead of selling these fantasies? What has happened to reality?

Answer: the majority of us have lost it. Look at he way people drive, deliberately running red lights and stop signs, taking a risk for the fun of it. Especially bicyclists– they drive as if they are living in a video game; they actually believe they can do any crazy thing, and they will be fine. “Nothing really matters, it’s not real. Nobody else really matters or exists, just me.” Subconsciously totally believing  “Those cars won’t hurt me, nothing can hurt me, so I can wander and zip in and out all I want.” Just like in the video games that now are so super-realistic they look almost exactly the same as news photography. In other words, it looks like the truth. The brains of children and teens are still forming; the human brain processes visual images  as reality. This is a well known and documented fact, and  yet kids can’t, and parents don’t, recognize this.

The powerful influence of visual images is an extremely effective method of mind and body training. It used to be called “brainwashing” when it was misused by religious cults and prisoner of war camps. Later, it was renamed and redirected as “visualization training” by professional and Olympic athletes worldwide, who all use vivid realistic imagery to program their minds so their bodies will perform to match. They have been using the power of visual imaging since the early 70’s because it works so amazingly well. But now, tragically and insanely, we are using it to train our children and young adults to be casual terrorists, arsonists, and murderers without even giving it a thought.

Somebody should start thinking about it, unless of course, this is what we mindfully, awarely, want our world to be. We can change it, or we can just continue to ignore it, like the decent  people of Nazi Germany did, until it was too late.

It is already too late to undo the damage we’ve done to two generations, and now we are reaping the harvest of that neglect. Kids are killing each other, and often adults too as never before in human history. Sixteen, fourteen, even 12-year-olds. It’s on the 10:00 news every night. When interviewed and asked why he killed his friend, a pre-teen boy said with perfectly emotionless calm justification,”I felt that he had disrepected me.”

I don’t watch much TV except football, but when I flip my remote through all the TV channels at any time of day or night, every channel, within 15 seconds or less, is showing a grisly bloody murder with guts spilling out on the pavement or blood running down someone’s face, someone screaming and being attacked, or a young girl being raped, or a beautiful woman savagely shaking her genitals into the camera. I’m so tired of it. I’m so bored with it. I don’t want that. But apparently, most Americans can’t get enough of it, and we have this insatiable lust and greed for the ugly and the horrible.

Our teens are obsessed with zombies, werewolves and vampires; these are their heroes and role models. There’s not much but horror on every channel except the community-supported stations. Why? The answer is grim but simple, any corporate TV producer will tell you in an instant “It’s what the people want.”

It’s what we have chosen, and you are choosing now. If this is not your choice or mine, then we have silently gone along with it and let it happen in the name of  freedom of speech, or democracy, or majority rule, or profit margin, or something else. Somehow those rationalized ideas have created a human society that is no longer rational, and is now seriously out of control.

This has happened before, when nations have been led into madness by “going along with the crowd.” Remember Adolph Hitler? Maybe you’re too young to have heard of him, but he was a charismatic military leader who ordered and carried out the slaughter of millions of people for no good reason except that he wanted everybody to look like him. Even though it was clearly an insane idea, he convinced a whole country that making their population Aryan only, with no Jews, was a good thing to do, and that genocide was appropriate. The people of Germany allowed his army officers to round up all Jews, take them from their businesses and homes on railroad cars to special places to murder them, hundreds or thousands a day, and dump all the bodies in a pile into a huge hole and bulldoze it over.

Wait a minute– That really doesn’t sound very different from the video games kids play now, does it? And they start playing these games at an average of age five, given to them as toys by their loving parents! On average, by the time they are teenagers they have practiced a shocking repertoire of skills of terrorism and they have routinely committed thousands of murders and brutal assaults without even giving it a thought. Then we wonder when we hear on the Nightly News that a 16-year-old has murdered a whole classroom full of first-graders, for no real reason, just because he wanted to. How dare we wonder!  How dare we be so surprised? How dare we be so stupid and irresponsible to our children and our world? When it’s right there, the reason is so obvious, it’s the biggest elephant-in-the-room, ever.

Then the teen killer kills himself at the end, and in his reasoning, that makes him the winner, game over.

Please give this some thought, in between Bones and C.S.I. Don’t support or allow terrorist training of your or your child’s mind, unless that’s what you really want your world to be. Like the Paramedic who is now a paraplegic for life because of the anger of a random stranger at a baseball game.

Video games are all about fantasy and the magic of illusion, but reality is not. In reality, there is no “restart” button that makes all the consequences go away. In life, the consequences can’t be  switched off or erased. When kids kill, somebody is dead, forever, and somebody is a murderer, forever.

Change minds, and you can change the world. What are you really programming yourself and your children for? Be aware, and care.

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