Aurora, Utoya, Tucson, Virginia Tech, The Nickel Mines Amish School, Columbine. Our expanding litany of horror and grief. Once again the media hum with passionate voices on all sides claiming righteous, superior opinions on gun control issues. Frankly, I am exhausted by the political posturing and reactive rhetoric.
So I want to suggest something that every single one of us could do TODAY to begin to end the violence that has grown into our second skin. Stop being entertained by violence. Refuse to watch it. Remove your assent to immersion in images of mayhem, mindless aggression, murder. Pull the plug on the profitability of terror and carnage.
An illustration. I recently tried to interest myself in the wildly popular Game of Thrones; I couldn’t do it. After five episodes, I quit; too much gratuitous, graphic gore, too much hatred, too much meaningless, violence-inspired sex. I literally felt sick. Interestingly, in two of the episodes, young and tender characters were advised by their elders and mentors not to “turn away’ when others were being tortured or killed. The message seemed to be that watching would somehow strengthen the viewer and create a sort of soul-callous necessary for tolerating such things in the future[i]. At the very least, being a willing observer would win the approval and admiration of those in charge.
Let’s all take a minute to breathe and think about this, and ponder how we are impacted by exposure to images and messaging of this kind. What subtle numbing have we all absorbed by the daily, almost constant assault on our senses and souls? I remember having to step out of the theater decades ago to calm myself in the middle of watching the first Godfather movie. The film was quite controversial at the time for its graphic violence; that dispute seems quaint today.
I long for a world in which all of us habitually “turn away’ from violence, are sickened by it, horrified by even the thought of one of us visiting any form of violence on the tender, fragile frame of another living being. Could we begin right now, this minute, to transform our current reality? Can we become conscious of the effect that violence in all its forms has on our bodies, minds, and spirits,[ii] and intentionally choose to immerse ourselves and our children in images of kindness, goodness, generosity, and healthy resolution of conflict?
We can have a peaceful world. Don’t wait for it. Choose it NOW. Turn this litany of horror into a litany of life.