My heart goes out to those affected by the unspeakable horror of the event in Newtown, CT on Friday, and to the wounds we all experience from this as a society. After the initial shock of the event begins to clear, the next stage in our grief is asking “why?” Explaining the inexplicable is so hard and often gut wrenching. There seems to be no logic to a senseless act. In the coming days, it will serve us well to think about the conditions that can cause violence, what we can do for the greater good, and what we need to try to change in our human connections.
One of the phenomena of our times is how so many kids are now relating to the world through video games, the internet and social media. Though technology has seemingly made the world smaller, the time that people – especially children – spend in front of a screen isn’t about true relationships and natural interaction. The neurons in so many young developing minds are not properly coming together in a healthy way. Some kids are losing their sense of emotion – something I call “nanoemotional” – and becoming desensitized. The danger is that we may very well see more violence in the future as children lose the emotional content of life and become numb to aggression. Unless we can address this by integrating our children back into the real world of relating to others, and participating face-to-face in a deeper, more dimensional way, the ramifications for our society will be dire.
What can you do to help kids balance their lives and interactions? How can you take action on these pressing matters and do your part to make the world a safer place? It starts with you and it continues with service to others. Whether it’s your influence with your own children, or youth in your community, you CAN make a difference, but you need to speak up and be proactive. While we grieve for those beautiful children, teachers, and their families, let’s honor them by moving forward with change and renewal.
As a teacher of secondary school boys In London I couldn’t agree more. I set a project for over 60 14 year old boys to design and create a computer game with no violence for young children. It took me several lessons with lively discussions to encourage them what alternatives there actually were. They had no concept of a game without violence and a lot of the them still ended up with violence such as “carrots that shot deadly poisoned juice” and I had to spend considerable time convincing a group of them that killing was violence as they insisted nobody got hurt just killed! It was a losing battle and a serious shock to see how difficult it s for their minds to even get the concept of a computer game without violence and aggression.
With another group of 12 year olds, making a calendar to sell for charity, based on quotes from humanitarians, not one child out of nearly two hundred children I asked knew what a humanitarian was, the most popular answer was someone who studied humans to the boy who thought it was someone who ate humans,(as vegetarians ate vegetables!) There is definitely lots of work to be done with 5 universal human values in schools!