• Children imitate the violence they see on TV. Children under age eight cannot tell the difference between reality and fantasy, making them more vulnerable to learning from and adopting as reality the violence they see on TV.
• Repeated exposure to TV violence makes children less sensitive toward its effects on victims and the human suffering it causes.
When the Academy Award winning movie West Side Story came out in 1961, I remember hearing my family talk about the fact that it was violent. (I was 6 at the time.) Yes, West Side Story, where the gangs wore ties and danced to choreographed songs in the streets, and where the shootings and stabbings were basically bloodless, was considered violent. Just 6 years later, in 1967, Bonnie and Clyde was the big hit, and the blood was certainly flowing by then. And Bonnie and Clyde certainly looks tame compared to Natural Born Killers, which also looks tame compared to the latest spate of mutilation and torture flicks, all for our entertainment pleasure.
And let’s not forget today’s video games, where the gratuitous, explicit, intense, and utterly sick violence is at the control of the person (probably kid!) pulling the joystick trigger (in fact, as you play the game, you are that person). As a columnist noted, one well-known video game included “using cat carcasses as silencers on your gun, hitting people with anthrax-laden cow heads and playing ‘fetch’ with dogs using the severed heads of your dismembered victims.” And there is a massive market for these types of “games.”
The book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible, states that one of the reasons God destroyed the world in Noah’s day was because the earth was “full of violence” (Gen 6:11, 13; even if you don’t believe in Noah’s flood, the moral lesson remains the same). What, then, can be said of a nation like America, a nation so filled with violence, not to mention entertained by violence? And I have not said a word about the violence done to babies in the womb, the ultimate example of innocent bloodshed.
Shortly before Jerusalem’s fall 2,700 years ago, the prophet Jeremiah heard the Lord say these words, which could easily apply to our country today: “Violence and destruction are heard in her; her sickness and wounds are ever before me” (Jer 6:7). Yes, America, a nation with so much potential and such a rich history, finds itself in the spiraling death grip of violence. How do we turn the tide?
Talk of gun control or media censorship is hardly the solution. The fact is that we have lost the consciousness of God and the fear of God, and without a heartfelt, genuine turning to the Lord, our future looks more bloody than blessed. The hour is as late as it is urgent.
Michael Brown holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University. He is the author of 25 books, includingLine of Fire. Follow him at AskDrBrown on Facebook or @drmichaellbrown on Twitter.
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