The recent massacre at Sandy Hook school in Newtown, Connecticut, has aroused, as expected, a rush of concern and heated debate revolving around gun control. As the sensationalism of Sandy Hook ebbs like the tide, so will our righteous rage, that is, until the next such tragedy comes to the fore.
Good, bad or indifferent, violence is a way of life in our society - a society that we all are a part. Violence is a multibillion-dollar industry and good for the economy.
Let us begin with the entertainment commerce. Perhaps our modern era of violent amusement began with Buffalo Bill Cody’s Traveling Wild West show at the turn of the last century. People, who could not really afford the tickets, splurged and bought them anyway to sit in the stands and watch thieving savage redskins “shot” in the arena.
Across the years, through the silent movie era and into the Silver Screen epoch, the violent movie came into its own. Today violence on the big screen and in our living rooms on the TV has reached the ultimate level of horror.
The movie business has made heroes and American idols out of such notorious gangsters as John Wesley Hardin, Billy the Kid, Frank and Jesse James, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, John Dillinger, Al Capone and many more.
The family time, family devotion and bonding time has been sidelined as the TV that spews out violence like a waterfall has replaced the family togetherness as center of attention in the home.
The news media has too made its contribution to a violent society. I am a published writer with thirty-two years experience with the newspaper industry. I have written on almost every known subject and been tutored by some of the best professional journalists in the business. Ralph Drinnon, now deceased, a proficient journalist told me one time that I would never make a professional journalist. “You want to write about only good things,” he said. “Bad news is what sells newspapers.”
The major news media blossoms on wars and disasters. If there is big hurricane, an earthquake that has killed thousands or a war going on, the media is booming. Big time TV reporters make a million dollars a year to report bad news while we sit in our living rooms and soak it up thinking that is the way it should be.
A sizable portion of world history is written around major battles, the victors, and the vanquished. The glorification of war and the means to annihilate entire populations is taken tongue-in-cheek.
Think of the economic impact that violence has on our society. Consider the billions of dollars taken in by all the hit violent movies - top box office attractions that draw crowds like flies to sugar to the theaters and gives Oscars to the stars. Movie producers employ thousands of people. If the movie industry were to belly up economically, there would be a depression probably. In addition, if newspapers and TV just started doing “good news” what would happen?
Indeed, we are cloaked with violence. We expect and wait for the next brutal outbreak to set our adrenalin going.
The tragedy at Sandy Hook is certainly heartbreaking but we must remember that it occurred within a context of our own making. While we wash our hands with smug indifference, we need to be aware that we all make our payment to such happenings.
I believe that the firearms industry like any other industry needs to be properly regulated. However, to think that gun control is going to stop the violence is wishful thinking. Aspirins may alleviate flu symptoms for a while but the virus requires a far more serious treatment than aspirins to cure it.
What then shall we do? To whom shall we go? Isaiah 2:4 talks about a plan “beat your swords into plow-shears and your spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift sword against nation, neither shall there be war anymore.”
Jesus gave us a plan in Matthew 6:33 “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.”
When everything else fails turn to the Lord; better yet, turn to the Lord first.