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On Violence by Eleni Vamvakari In this essay, I will discuss violence.

More specifically, I will explore how bad parenting, entertainment, the media, and society in general, encourage it. Finally, I will explain some common sense solutions which can hopefully aid in reducing the amount of violence seen today. There is nothing new about violence. It has existed since the dawn of humanity. Yet you cannot live in the world today without noticing that it seems to have increased dramatically over the last few decades. I attribute this to several factors. One is bad parenting. Sometimes, this is deliberate, as when parents completely neglect their children, or pay little attention to them, being absorbed in other things. As I have said in the past, if you cannot handle the responsibility of being a parent, you should not have, and most definitely should not adopt, children. But there are decent parents who simply may not realise that they're causing their children harm by not discussing violence with them. They may encourage good behaviour, such as not punching Johnny in the face because he called you four-eyes, sharing with your brother, and generally being polite. But then, they give their children violent video games, let them watch films filled with violence, and read books filled with more of the same. They remind their son that no, they cannot fly like Superman, but forget to tell him that he can't be the Terminator either. Films and television, when viewed in moderation, can be a great form of entertainment. They can teach lessons, make you laugh, and even bring families together. But there are things which are age appropriate for children and things which, while not sexual in content, should still not be seen by them. Most parents would not take a little child to see a grusome murder film. But many other things still fall through the cracks. Even films made for children often have bad guys who are violent. There's a difference between illuding to the antagonist doing something bad and actually showing it. To make matters worse, many children's films now include humour and other material with sexual inuendos, which are certainly not age appropriate, but which are designed for adults who may be watching them with their children. This is is, at best, a very poor use of judgement. Whatever happened to family friendly films? That said, not all children watch these things with their families. Many parents leave them in front of the television while they work, go out, or cook. While it's true that most shows and films now have ratings, what child is honestly going to read them and think "I'm really too young to watch this. Let me change the channel"? So these forbidden films then become a source of curiosity, and the child will either watch them at home or go to a friend's house and do so. This is why it's important for parents to sit down with their children and explain the difference between make believe and reality, between acceptible violence and badd actions. Most parents are happy when their children read. Reading builds a curiosity about the world, and most times, the quality of books is far better than that of films and television shows. Yet again, violence is often seen in various guises in fiction. Sometimes, it's obvious, and sometimes, it's not. While most children are more likely to watch a

show or play a video game, some do read, and it's critical for parents to carefully monitor the books that their children like. It's not about being a spy and taking away your children's freedom. It's about insuring that they are reading wholesome materials, and that, when they do come across violence, they can put it into proper perspective. This is true with religious materials as well. As a Hellenic Polytheist and Hellenic nationalist, if I were to adopt, I would insure that my son learns about our religion and culture. But there's a difference in learning about the War of Independence and going to school and beating up a fellow student because he's from Turkey. Likewise, saying that you believe in The Gods is fine. But bullying people and getting into fights because you like Ares and Athena is not. These rules must be set down in order to create balance. One avenue which even I tend to overlook in this discussion is music. Almost all of the English music that I like comes from the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, the latter decade mostly being pop and disco. My primary decade is the 60s, which, despite it's turmoil didn't have much violence in it's songs. At least, not the ones with which I'm familiar. My Greek tastes are mostly rebetika, from the 20s through the 40s, and authentic paradosiaka and dimotika (traditional music). Rebetika, while it is the music of the streets, and while it discusses such topics as sex, drugs, street fighting, and prison, still cannot compare to much of the content of the early blues, nor of today's songs. In these, you will often find a mixture of extreme violence, sexism, profanity, and certain things which even my hardened sensibilities find disturbing. These songs not only mention violence, they glorify it as a way of life. Where the manges would talk about smoking hashish, relaxing, and playing bouzouki, these people talk about shooting up heroin and going to kill their neighbours and their parents! Most of this music is not played on the mainstream radio. But it's not difficult to find on the internet. There is also a movement for those who enjoy so-called electronica, in which heavy drug usage plays a role. So, again, it's very important to monitor the kinds of music to which your children are listening. If at all possible, try to encourage them to find positive role models and to stay away from such bad influences. I was born in 1983, and since I've been totally bline since I was two-months-old, my choice in toys and games was naturally quite limited. But even had I been sighted, there's no escaping the fact that children now have a much wider variety of choices than they did when I was their age. Some of these are educational and great for stimulating their minds. They can learn about the world around them, about nature, and so on. But some games are strictly violent. This is especially true with ones made for older children and adults. It's very easy, when Dad's away, for his son to grab the grown-up combat game, stick it in the computer, and play it. Not only that, but many of these are very realistic. As I recall, when Nintendo started, they actually had to obey a Japanese rule to keep colours muted and limit violence. Even when you fought a human, it wasn't all blood and gore, and full of real gunfire sounds, screaming, etc. Today, you could practically have a war in your sittingroom! This, coupled with the fact that many children don't go outside and play together, helps foster the idea that it's okay to be violent, and that things are not as bad as all the grown-ups claim. After all, even if the enemy kills you, you can just use your next life or hit the reset button and start over. I'm not saying that

every game needs to be educational. I play audio games and text-based games and enjoy collecting objects while trying to beat a clock, and building eco systems, for example. Even shooting things and fighting monsters can be fun, but I still know that it's a game. The news, be it on television, in the newspaper, or on the internet, can be a great source of information. This is especially true now, since you could learn what's happening not only locally, but also around the world.Yet journalism seems to have changed. No longer is it good enough to just report the news. Now, things must be sensationalised. Sex and drugs scandals must be dragged through the mud, and large murder cases, particularly when multiple people die, must be drawn out for every last ounce of public satisfaction and high ratings. I've often asked why there isn't more good news in the headlines, and the usual response I get is "it doesn't sell. No one wants to hear stories about animal rescues, child geniuses, random acts of kindness, etc." What, then, are we teaching our children? When their friend makes it to the state spelling B and there isn't even an article in the local paper about her, but instead, there's a full page story of how someone sliced someone else open with a knife, what will that child think? Most won't care. They will, in essence, become desensitised to it. Some live around crime, so this has already happened. But the constant repetition of these crimes, and the glorification of the criminals who commit them, may put the idea into a child's head that doing bad things brings fame. "So, Jane didn't get in the paper for winning that spelling B, but I bet I'll get in if I beat Mrs. Smith's cat. Maybe, I can swing him by his tale or hang him on the tree to make it look really good." It may start out far more innocently. "Maybe, if I steal those cookies from the store, Mom will talk to me. Sure, she'll yell, but at least she's paying attention to me." And therein lies the problem. Children must be taught that doing bad doesn't bring fame or glory, but shame and regret. Yet how can parents instill this value in them when every time they turn on the television, they see the murderer from that school shooting last week, some may think. Praise them when they do good things. Even if your tired, if your daughter comes home and wants to show you her art project, take the a few minutes to look on it and tell her how proud you feel. Do the same with good report cards, and especially if she acts kindly towards others. Then, she won't feel the need to compete with the killer in the paper. It's easy to say "let's change things. Let's ban certain books and games, and try to get the media to focus on more positive things." While I believe that this approach will work in the longrun, for now, at least, the best solution is to be there for your children. Watch television with them, read with them, play with them. Teach them that there are times when acting violent is okay and times when it's not. To use my earlier example, if Johnny graduates from calling you four-eyes to pounding your head against your locker, you have every right to smack him. If someone touches you in a bad place, it's okay to kick him, run away, and call out for help. But if someone playfully touches your arm, and you don't like it, the first thing to do is to ask him to stop, not to hit him. Let your children take self-defence courses, so that they can learn discipline. Give them outlets, such as crafts, sports, writing, religion, etc. for their anger and frustration, as well as for their creativity. If you allow them to play with toy guns, explain to them that while these are toys and can't hurt them, real

guns are dangerous and should never be touched. Encourage them to play less violent games, particularly ones which make them think while having fun. If you allow them to watch shows with characters doing supernatural things, or beating up the bad guy, remind them that this is just a film, and is not reality. Ask them what they would do in different situations. Tell them stories and see how they react to one ending versus another. If you live in a particularly violent neighbourhood, stress often that you're trying to leave this place, and that just because the neighbours are fighting, or there were gun shots down the street, this is no way to live or behave, whether you're a child or an adult. Other people, in good neighbourhoods, don't do these things. Some of these things may seem silly, but a conversation like this could make the difference between your child going to prison for shooting or beating someone up, when he's older, versus taking a deep breath and walking away, or even just having a verbal argument. In conclusion, there are many reasons why violence exists today, and I certainly didn't discuss all of them. But it is clear that parents, the media, and society in general need to take a stronger stand against it. This doesn't mean everyone must be a pacifist, who turns the other cheek while getting raped or thrown to the ground. But it does mean that moderation must be taught, and the ways in which we view violence, as just a part of the world, must change. Only when we provide a good environment for children to learn, to grow, and to get inspired, can we hope to stem the flow of violence that plagues us today. Commentary I was asked what I meant about the violent songs of the blues. I must admit, this is not a genre of music with which I'm familiar. But I do know a bit about it, and this article from came to mind writing the above essay. If you've enjoyed this essay, and would like to read my other works, they can be found here. As always, please feel free to comment on and share any of them. A wide variety of topics are discussed, so there's something for everyone. Essays Categorised