Friday, April 17, 2015

A Lack of Common Decency

What has been getting my attention lately is an amalgamation of thoughts related to the callousness with which people, and men in particular, tend to treat each other these days. Men have always killed other men, women, and children, but there are more killers (men and women) today than ever before.  There is no doubt about that.  With men the violence can be traced back to the beginning of recorded history (I’m not sure about women).  But anyway, today it seems as if killers are not satisfied with just killing someone.  They need to torture and maim them as well.  They need to inflict unspeakable pain upon them.  Women are not just raped and murdered these days, but brutalized beyond recognition and discarded in a dumpster or dumped in the woods like the proverbial pile of garbage, as if life were nothing more than that.
Where does such unspeakable callousness come from?  How has it come to be born in the souls of men (and women) to the degree that it has today? 
Are there just too many movies, video games and TV shows depicting such mayhem?  I don’t know, but it begs again the age-old question, Does art imitate life, or does life imitate art?  My question, however, is How can anybody mistake butchery for art?

Love, it has been said, is the answer.  Love conquers all.  All you need is love.  We’ve all heard the biblical commands to love your neighbor as yourself, and to love your enemies.  Greater love hath no man, the bible also says, than to lay down his life for a friend.  And, of course, the Good Book’s description of love that we hear at so many weddings, Love is patient, love is kind etc. . . . . . . .

There is a lack of love in the lives of people today. And I mean a lack of authentic love, not the kind that is sold wholesale by Hollywood.  I’m talking about love that impacts and endures rather than the pretend love that serves only as instant, but temporary, gratification.
But this hate and mayhem goes way beyond a lack of love.  There is a lack of common decency as well.  Even if you do not love someone you can still find it within yourself to relate to them with decency.  In fact, even if you hate someone you can still treat them with a measure of decency.  Decency is a choice that every one of us make every time we choose to interact with another individual.  The problem is that in our increasingly impersonal culture we make fewer and fewer choices to engage with dignity.  Is it any big surprise that those among us who are inclined towards violence would ramp it up as well, to the point of ferocity and brutality even, just as they would ramp up a verbal interaction with someone they might encounter along the way?
Something’s wrong with this picture.  Something’s terribly wrong. 

Now I’m not one to subscribe to the thinking that if someone watches violent movies, or plays violent video games that he’s necessarily going to become violent himself.  Some will, and some won’t.  Some people never would under any circumstances.  But others would even under the most innocuous of circumstances.  For many it is a matter of becoming what you are inundated with, whether you are fed this trash by others or choose to feed it to yourself.  People tend to become what they indulge in.  It becomes what they identify with.  I don’t really want to identify with killing, with depravity, debauchery, or wickedness of any kind.  I’m sorry, but y’know it just makes me feel kind of . . . . . . . . . . . . oh, I don’t know. . . . . . . . . . . . . . kind of. . . . . . . . kind of. . . . . . . . . uh . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . DIRTY!