Thursday, September 11, 2008

Where Were You When...

by Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, September 11, 2008

It was 7 years ago today when the Twin Towers, the Pentagon and the crash in Pennsylvania occurred and most everyone remembers exactly where they were and what they were doing when it happened. I was sitting in my Keller Williams Realty office listening to the radio (I was also working). Like others you wanted to believe that striking the first tower was an accident but when the second tower was hit you knew. Everyone in the office at the time was fixed to watching the television as the events unfolded.

Today I sat motionless as I watched a replay of the events of September 11 and could not help but think that a lot of people throughout the world have already forgotten the tragedy of that day because it has been intentionally kept out of sight, out of mind. There has been an agreement by the national media NOT to replay the terrorist attacks of that day. Yet video games, television shows, music, and movies have made violence a way of life in America. I find it very ironic that real death and destruction have been silenced but play-acting violence runs rampant. Today the news broadcast ran the names of those who perished on 9/11 across the bottom of the screen but they were only words. Imagine the impact of displaying actual photographs of those who perished along with their family members and then explaining to our children that this is real; violence hurts and kills and that there is evil in the world that needs to be eradicated.

Some people reading this Nugget were not old enough to remember the assignation of President John F. Kennedy but I was. That is another day that people remember exactly where they were and what they were doing. I was walking across the campus of Bowling Green State University between classes when two students walking in front of me talked about the event.

We consciously remember such events because they were powerful incidents in our lives. The key word is “consciously remember.” Science long ago recognized that we also have a sub-conscious mind and it too remembers. It remembers incidents, history, words, videos, and pictures that we consciously have long forgotten or thought we have forgotten. The sub-conscious mind remembers and remembers well. It also does not define what it sees or hears meaning that it does not judge right or wrong only what is.

Adolph Hitler recognized that it is very difficult to change the minds of the adult German people and knew if he really wanted to effect lasting change, he had to change the minds of children and created the Hitler Youth. Watch the films of that era and you will see where the smallest of children wore the “brown shirts” of the time and marched in unison and repeated the mantras giving homage to Hitler and his ideals. Is it no different today as we see photos and films of youths around the world carrying automatic weapons and having bombs strapped to their bodies? When violence becomes routine, valuing life becomes non-existent.

Today our society is corrupting the minds of our children by exposing them to routine violence via video games, television, movies, music, and especially cartoons.

Tell me I am wrong. We buy our children BB guns and they are excited. They take the paper targets that come with the gun and begin honing their skills. Paper targets become routine and boring so they move on to tin cans. There is not sufficient excitement just seeing a can fall of a shelf so they move to glass bottles and street lights where they can see them shatter. From bottles they move to small animals such as birds, cats and dogs. It is a natural progression and it becomes accelerated by repetition and exposure. Of course MY children would not do this, right? Anyone who watches television can not help but see the senseless violence of the current trend in video games. Who are we kidding that our youngest of children are not being exposed to this garbage yet it continues with increasing frequency. We as adults remind the children that no one is getting hurt in the video games, television and movies – it is all make believe.

While you were growing up, do you recall any incident involving the senseless shooting of students in a high school? Can you remember any drive-by shootings? We are outraged at the death toll in Iraq in January of 2008 but accept without question that there were more murders in the City of Detroit in the same time period than in the entire country of Iraq. I can remember watching the local news several years ago when the total number of murders were announced (they no longer report the total) for the City of New Orleans like someone would keep track of an attempt at breaking an Olympic record. I also recall how people would drive by the Coast Guard Training Center in Petaluma California (almost 1000 acres) that was completely surrounded by a fence and barbed wire (it was once a very secure Army facility) and shoot deer through the fence; they just left them there to die.

It is easier to be negative than positive. It is easier to frown than smile. It is easier to criticize than support. It is easier to ignore than be engaged. It is becoming easier to be violent than non-violent. Instead of working out disagreements, people kill (or sue).

As Dr. John Maxwell so often states, “Hope is not an effective strategy.” If we are going to turn our society around, hoping so won’t make it happen. Each one of us must begin by saying no to violence. It starts with self. We need to boycott violent movies and turn the television off. We need to say no to our children having access to violent video games and graphic musical lyrics. We need to tell advertisers that we will no longer buy their products if they continue to promote and support violent programs.

As an individual, you and I CAN make a difference but to do so we need to do something to move in the right direction. As an example, Pepsi Cola hired a rap artist to promote the Pepsi line of products. That in itself was no problem but this rap artist routinely sang about killing police, sexual acts, abusing women and the like. I wrote to Pepsi advising them that they have a right to select any company spokesperson they desire but that I also have a right to NOT buy their products. I knew that I was only one voice and that my correspondence had no weight on its own. However, within the month Pepsi pulled the advertisements. It was not my letter that made a difference; it was the weight of the thousands of letters and calls to Pepsi that made a difference. What were they thinking?

Are we as committed to protecting our way of life as our enemies (and that includes the entertainment industry as far as I am concerned) are committed to destroying it? At this point in time, I think not! However, one person (that would be you and me) CAN make a difference! We need to be aware! We need to personally take action! We need to be engaged! As Jim Collins says in his book, Good to Great; “don’t accept good when you can have great!”

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