Visions of Violence
To see and listen to the wicked is already the beginning of wickedness. - Confucius
Aikido founder Morihei Ueshiba is credited as the author of aphorisms taken from lectures and poems that would eventually be compiled into The Art of Peace. Ueshiba's message herein is that non-violence and compassion are the utimate hallmarks of the warrior. It's ironic that the O'Sensei took this stand, given his own teacher was a ruthless butcherer who would cut down anyone who crossed his path. Fortunately, he had the wisdom to not emulate his master and cultivated a different way.
Is it really conceivable to transcend violence when our culture is so immersed in it? Everyday we're bombarded with news reports of civil unrest, terrorism and otherwise ordinary people gone berserk. What's so unsettling is that these sort of grisly events have become the norm in the news. Worse still is how we as a society have become so desensitized to these things. Violence, bloodshed and mayhem exist not only in newscasts, but perversely in our entertainment outlets: graphic martial-art video games, rap music that espouses gang violence, and movies that depict torture scenes just to name a few.
Like Ueshiba, are we capable of seeing the folly to all of this, or do these gruesome images take their toll on us in some way? Research has shown that extended exposure to violence leads to brain activity patterns that may be characteristic for aggressive thoughts. Monkey see, monkey do so to speak. Not that we're incapable of separating fact from fiction or putting a horrific news report into its proper perspective on a conscious level, but rather that we are affected subliminally.
It seems nearly impossible to have any faith in concepts such as non-violence and compassion when we're force-fed a nonstop barrage of man's inhumanity to humanity. Should the media take more of an active role in not sensationalizing bad events? We too have the choice to not partake in a pop culture that glorifies violence and even murder. I'm not suggesting that we cut ourselves off from reality or view life through rose colored glasses, but we need to realize that the constant depiction of violence in our daily lives can have profound ramifications on us, and especially our children.