In so many ways, the world today is probably unrecognizably different from the world of even the previous generation, but in one profound way, it is essentially the same. We still carry with us the same problem that has plagued humans for countless centuries – the problem of violence. Violence: the language of violence, the imagery of violence, and the violence of violence are all around us. We ignore this issue at our peril. We must open our eyes, we must open our hearts and minds, and we must take action. As a society, we all need to join hands and work together. We need to focus our anger and hatred and smash and tear the violence right out of our society. We need to chainsaw the very limbs of violence apart and bludgeon them to a crushed, bloody pulp with our righteous sledgehammer of peace and understanding. We need to bite savagely at the neck of violence as it screams and thrashes for mercy, and then we need to frantically and viciously mangle it with our battleaxe of love and unity and hurl it into the boiling lava of kindness until it finally dies a horrible and agonizing death. And even after it’s finally dead, we need to extract its lifeless remains from the lava and stomp spitefully on its charred, tattered corpse with our steel-toed boots of forgiveness and acceptance and spit on it with a spirit of open-hearted compassion while shouting and firing our AK-47s of cosmic enlightenment into the air.
That’s all very well and good to say, but it’s another thing to actually do something. How do we begin? We begin by finding the source. Some commentators argue that computer games make up the most pervasive and powerful sources of violent imagery today. Young, impressionable players sit for hour after hour, immersing themselves in worlds of glorified violence, repeatedly performing acts of incredible brutality and desensitizing themselves to the reality of what violence really is. With every new act of destruction and injury in these vividly drawn virtual worlds, young people who don’t yet have the life experience to fully distinguish between fantasy and reality relentlessly train their neural pathways to accept violence, and eventually, to crave it and lust after it, just like the addict jonesing for his/her crack, and occasionally, someone else’s crack, but who are we to judge others’ sexual preferences?
Simply put, violent games train and breed violent, aggressive behaviour. Games such as Grand Theft Auto have borne much of the brunt of these criticisms, but the truth is that this phenomenon of video games molding young minds in questionable and even dangerous ways is not a new trend. Though government agencies suppressed the story in the media, the late ’80s saw many young people joining in a disturbing underground movement. Disaffected youths roamed the desolate suburban wastelands at night. The amoral young thugs in many ways resembled those of A Clockwork Orange, but they didn’t wear bowler hats and garish eye makeup. Instead, they wore clichéd old plumbers’ outfits and bushy moustaches and ran through the streets, calling it the ‘Mushroom Kingdom’, bouncing against bricks that popped out coins, and purportedly looking for something, probably a dangerous hallucinogen cut with drain cleaner, which they called ‘Princess Toadstool’. Earlier in the ’80s, the craze was for nihilistic hooligans to transform themselves into large round yellow objects and zip through mazes of dystopic urban alleyways eating dots while attempting to avoid ghosts. And with the advent of dramatically popular games for the iPhone and other smartphones, these trends have taken a more disturbing turn. Copycatting delinquents have been taking on the forms of cute yet irate ball-shaped birds and slingshotting themselves at strange, ramshackle structures housing evil pigs.
It is time to take action against these insidious forces slowly eroding our society from within. We need to look deeper and search inside of ourselves, through our hidden and secret places, through the mysterious and forbidden crevices of our bodies, to find out why these kinds of cheap, tawdry, violent entertainment are so popular. Then, we need to hunt down the purveyors of these games and kill them. With kindness, mind you, but still, make no mistake, we must kill them. There are of course many logistical and technical problems that need to be solved in order to develop a truly effective means of killing with kindness, but I firmly believe that we as a society are fully capable of this if we only unleash our indomitable can-do spirit and our relentless drive for excellence and innovation.