Contributed by

Assistant Pastor Sandra Berryman,

Island Methodist Church

“Have you ever felt like you are a part of something bigger? When you watch the news about shootings, murders and the war in Iraq? Or is it just me? When I look at the news, I see the war in the United States and it is right down the street.” This is a quote from an article written by thirteen-year-old Brianna Witkoske.

In Biblical times, a sheep pen was considered to be a safe place, like schools are considered to be safe places. When the sheep are in the pen, they are thought to be safe, and when kids are in a school, they are thought to be safe. But the Bible says a thief slips in only to steal and kill and destroy. We have barbed wire around our playgrounds and police officers full-time in our schools. Disrespect and anger have entered the doors of our sheep pen.

In the Roman Empire, Seneca said, “All gutters lead to Rome.” His comparison was made between the Greek and Roman games. The Greeks filled the amphitheaters with races, javelin throwing, discus, jumps, and the display of beautiful bodies and athleticism. The Romans had the gladiators, locked in violent combat until death. Nero filled the stadium with 400 wild elephants, wild bulls and wild tigers until they killed each other, blood on the Coliseum floor, the crowds cheering. Rome was a culture addicted to violence and gore . . . like our culture today.

Our movies display gore to shock us into realism. We’re drawn in. Sadly, we applaud. Are we much different than the Roman spectators ?

The media world has addicted our children to violence, which has a behavioral impact on their lives. Advertising affects behavior based on the power of repeated suggestion. TV programming illustrates the power of repeated suggestion, and violence, which then affects behavior. Parents are too busy living their own lives and are in denial.

Violence is the opposite of the living Spirit of Jesus, who comes to bring life and give it more abundantly. The irony is that some people who act out violently are people who believe in God. Have we become blind? If a thirteen-year-old can see it, why can’t we? We can “love our neighbor as ourselves.” Let that epidemic spread and destroy the disease of violence.