"The penalty good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." attributed to Plato

"Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing." attributed to Edmund Burke

Let's between us make the world a better place.

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

"Some viewers may find the following images disturbing."

We have all heard the cautionary warning at the beginning of yet another dreadful news item on TV. But shouldn't we all be disturbed by these events every time they are broadcast?  
And as if the real life news is not awful enough, man is quite capable of creating things that hurt, as well as making beautiful artefacts that can be a source of healing. The choice is ours.
Many share my dismay at the almost unbelievably violent computer games sold to children, but how many have the courage to take a stand against such things? Patience Wheatcroft in The Times (1) wrote: “Whatever previous research has determined, it is hard to believe that prolonged exposure to such horrors does not breed some nasty ideas in the more impressionable of minds.” She went on to say: “The instances in which youngsters have gone out and committed murders akin to those they have watched are mercifully rare, although there have been a few notorious cases. But instinct suggests that bloodlust cultivated on a computer screen might at least have a desensitising effect, even if it does not drive the player to go out and…(copy that violence.)” She quotes research from the University of Missouri-Columbia that shows that “regular players of violent games suffer reduction in a type of brain activity called the P300 response, which reflects the emotional impact of an image on the viewer. The reaction of gamers to violent images was muted, suggesting that they were desensitised to brutality. They were also found more likely to behave aggressively…” Surely this can be extrapolated to the News Bulletins? Even without the benefit of scientific evidence, common sense tells us that the emotions provoked by such violence can hardly be healing. We are healed by beauty, sensitivity and spirituality, not by ugly brutality. Studies such as these are always controversial and science rarely proves anything, it simply offers balances of probability. Nonetheless those who create such horror for the retail trade seem to be allowing their own wounds to crush them. They certainly have a responsibility for the potential negative effects of their work; for the harm it possibly inflicts on the minds of others. 
We know that people who are subjected to too much gratuitous violence put up a barrier of defense and they become desensitized, a process sometimes known as “psychic numbing.” It is not hard to see that the longer-term effects of such material on the general behavior of the human race could be far reaching. And this brings us back to the appalling and disturbing news items. How dreadful, and what awful implications for us all, if we are not deeply disturbed by those graphic violent images that come into our living rooms every night on the TV news bulletins.

We all need to feel disturbed enough to do something, however small, to heal the world.There are plenty of organisations across the globe addressing the issues behind the news images - they need our time and our funding. Just supposing we all started one tiny Ripple of Hope with a small action every time we saw disturbing images on our news bulletins ...? 
Arun Gandhi travels the world trying to keep alive his grandfather Mahatma Gandhi’s philosophy of non-violence, based on the principles of love and truth. A young teacher in one of Arun’s lectures raised the question of “the corrupting effect of violent movies, TV shows and obscene and violent music on the young people in America.” Should they avoid such things, she asked. This, he replied, placed the cart before the horse. Those who live a life of practicing “truthfulness” would not want to watch or listen to any such media in the first instance. But such a noble life is not so easy for many of us to achieve.
for some reason, i couldn\'t stop taking pictures of these gorillas.  courtney and mark had to eventually pull me away or else i would have stood there all day.When I was a very young girl we had an illustrated nature book at home. Amongst the photographs was a full page spread of a family of fearsome looking gorillas. They terrified me and made me scream every time I opened the book at that page, but I still insisted on continually going back to that photo! They held a gruesome fascination for me.
Many of us have an almost ghoulish tendency to look at the evil that is around us. We are certainly not very good at protecting ourselves from harmful influences. We therefore have government and industry guidelines that protect us from ourselves! We have rules and regulations that prohibit or restrict certain creative material, such as those that may determine the content and timing of television and radio programs. Films are classified according to their perceived suitability for different audiences. Such rules are often although not exclusively designed to protect the young and vulnerable in our societies. But no one can escape the events that actually happen, that feature in our TV news programmes.

And we all need to do something. Start Ripples of Hope - to heal this fractured world.

1. Patience Wheatcroft, The Times on January 13th 2006 in an article entitled “Bloodlust at the click of a Mouse.” 

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