Speaking of Cliffs….

For months, the impending ‘fiscal cliff’ has dominated the news cycles.

Then came the Sandy Hook School shooting massacre in Newtown, CT.

Like the rest of the country, I too have pondered in disbelief and anguish over this senseless act that has forced itself in to our homes, our lives, and our conscience.

I feel no compelling to jump on any variety of bandwagons that will beat their drums in the coming  months trying to explain the inexplainable, or to get behind a collective push to enact new laws to combat a spiritual evil with shallow legislation.

What I have found myself doing this week…is instead of looking ahead at the presumed fiscal cliff that politicians and news pundits have been forewarning us about for months;  and I am asking ‘When did we topple over the moral cliff?’

And while I could enumerate a wide spectrum of social ills that plague our society today, I choose only one to single out here.

That focal point would be the disturbing and soul searching question of:  Why are we as a people so fascinated with violence?  Or may I be more direct and ask specifically- why are we so Entertained by violence.

I would be the first one to tell you that my all time favorite TV show was the popular series ’24’ with Jack Bauer being the star of the show.  In fact, if I’m controlling the TV remote at home, I’m more likely to watch a show/movie that is filled with ‘action’.

While I’ve never been a ‘gamer’, you have to be living under a rock to be ignorant of the fact that the gaming industry has become a billion dollar business as they crank out these computer/video type games that arm the contestants with simulated high power weapons storming through various settings taking out ‘bad guys’ left and right.

With the ever improving technology, the special effects created become more and more realistic.  I’ve walked past video arcade games and seen body parts flying across the screen with simulated blood and guts being splattered in all directions.  And children of all ages are pumping their quarters in to such machines captivated by what we call ‘entertainment devices’.

Admittedly, I too have subscribed to the notion that it’s a ‘guy thing’ to like good shoot ’em up movies and action thrillers with all the thrilling special effects. I might also add here (and in no way to justify or to excuse myself) I am no fan of the so called ‘slasher-murder’ themed movies.  But I am guilty as charged to the fact I am apart of the crowd that is ‘entertained’ by violence.

‘Experts’ for years have lamented over the damaging effects on younger children who feed on such violent material.  Special interest groups have labored to restrict such content from kids with various rating systems on the computer games and movies and such.  But you know as well as I do, the industry continues to thrive and kids of all ages, not to mention the adult population, continue to feed their lust for ‘thrilling’ and realistic violent entertainment.

The bottom line is…Violence Sells.  Period.

I can remember years ago reading articles that enlightened us to how many acts of violence, killings, sexual acts, etc, that a kid had witnessed on TV by the time they were 12, or 16 or 18.  The data was mind boggling.

Oh sure, many will say that there is a distinct difference between a child watching such material and a grown adult doing the same.  We of course can easily differentiate between fantasy and reality.  But I submit- this is besides the point.

Why are we ‘entertained’ by it?

Do we really believe we are unaffected by watching a steady diet of such violence?  At best, we have to at least consider the fact that we have been desensitized by the onslaught of repeated killings, shootings, stabbings, etc.  And does it really matter if it’s a ‘good guy’ doing the killing of the ‘bad guys’?

It’s still explicit violence.

It’s easy to want to fault the producers in the gaming and TV/movie industry for churning out this stuff.  But we KEEP BUYING IT!

There are times I feel like I’m one of the commoners in attendance back in the days of the Roman gladiators standing on my feet in the colosseum crying out for ‘more…more…more’.

One last thing here – If you believe you are ‘old…or wise enough’ to be uninfluenced by such ‘entertainment’…that you are well grounded and able to process your choice of entertainment thinking you are not affected by such material, then answer me this:  Why is advertising a multi-billion dollar a year business?  I think people realize that a simple 30 second TV commercial of a hot slice of pizza…or an image of a juicy, sizzling hamburger, or a sleek new shiny pick-up truck, etc…influences you.  Greatly.  And if a 30 second commercial filled with realistic images has that kind of effect on us, we are kidding ourselves to think hours upon hours of bloody violence doesn’t.

So as the parents of Newtown, CT begin burying their 5 and 6 year old children this week…just days before Christmas, our country is wringing their hands, wiping their tears, struggling with their emotions while demanding ‘something’ be done to stop such insidious acts.

Maybe…the answer doesn’t lie in the hands of politicians to create more laws.  That kind of action doesn’t really require anything from us, personally.  Maybe ….just maybe…the answer lies in what we choose on a daily basis to feed our need for entertainment.  Take note that next movie/DVD you rent or buy…or turn on to watch is feeding an industry that is desensitizing us as a nation.

Maybe…just maybe, the answer lies within each of us as individuals.

Then again, maybe we are too far gone to turn back.  But I can’t help believe that the looming ‘fiscal cliff’ can do any more harm to us a country…than what the moral cliff we fell off long ago has already done.

Photo above: (A woman waits to hear about her sister, a teacher, following a shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Dec. 14, 2012. (Jessica Hill/AP Photo))