Violence and Creativity: Questions to ponder. by Ilona Elliott
What compels someone to kill? What makes a person so angry, or disillusioned, or fearful, or enraged, that they feel like they need to destroy the essence of another human life in order to squelch those powerful emotions?
How do we address violence in our society, particularly gun violence?
Do we start with violence in our culture, in our entertainment industry, in our national mindset? Does it start with our babies, who are like sponges when they are developing and who learn not just at school but at home, from television, books, games, music, art and popular culture? We laugh and say no-no, it’s not the games or the television programs or videos or literature, but aren’t these the same tools terrorist and hate groups use to school and attract followers, who are not babies and who, arguably, are not as impressionable as our own little children? What are we teaching our children about how to deal with conflict? What are the fruits of our teachings?
How do we convince people who make handsome profits from promoting and providing violent “entertainment” content that they are a part of the problem? How do we as a society reject violence? What are we saying about ourselves through violent content in art, culture, and entertainment? What about our fascination with ever more powerful and destructive weapons? Why do we wag our tongues and shake our heads at violence in our society and gladly pay for and consume the same in our fantasy world?
How do you change a culture that is steeped in violent imagery and is schooled in the inevitable necessities of war? How do we as a society and a government evolve beyond the notions of forcefulness, violent conflict, war and control? Why does a self-proclaimed Christian nation not choose to turn the other cheek, to come and reason together, to teach and to believe that the meek shall inherit the earth and that the peace makers are the children of God? Why is the option of war the easiest and most expedient pathway to political consensus? Why aren’t we through with war?
How do we change the story?
What kind of work do we need to do to change?
We could start by offering a new story to our children. One of coherence and peaceful resolution. Or another way of putting it, of peace, love and understanding. And if you’re laughing right now and shaking your head at my naiveté perhaps your cynicism is smothering your humanity and informing your children’s developing intolerance and fear.
We could start by voting for, purchasing and supporting non-violence as a way of life. Feed our children healthy images. Imagine video games based on creating things–floating cities, renewable energy sources, artwork, musical compositions, literary adventures, fantasy worlds full of benevolence and creative energy instead of battling armies and snipers and thieves. We could replace the angst and adrenaline rushed fearful thrills with challenging exciting problems to attack and solve–non-violently. Violence will get you out of the game. Imagine that!
We could reject abusive controlling language in the public arena. We could promote civility and teach it to our kids and demand it from our public speakers. We could turn off the microphones and walk away from bullies instead of playing their games and promoting their images. We could make our politics service oriented and not career pathways. We could champion human goodness, tolerance, and diversity and reject the otherness of racism, homophobia and the demonization of political rivals.
We could choose role models who promote intelligent collaboration and discourage rather than promote competitive opportunistic one-up-man-ship. We could provide laws and checks and balances to control money and corporate control in our governing institutions. We could elect reasonable, intellectual and effective legislators and remove reactionary, irrational and ineffectual thinking from our governing bodies. We could listen more to scientists and qualified experts and less to career politicians. We could make Ghandi our hero instead of Cheney.
We could make the common good our goal instead of coveting the control of commodities. We could stop fighting for control of the worlds resources. We could make corporate crimes such as stealing indigenous peoples’ lands, polluting and destroying distant environments and even our own valuable farm lands and water resources punishable by law instead of supporting and promoting immoral pathways to profitability.
We could change our economic models to include the sustainability of systems and the welfare of peoples and the planet and recognize that growth without those qualities is not in our best interests and creates gross systemic inequality.
We could start paying attention to the positive changers, the benevolent believers, the revolutionary lovers and ignore the latest outrageous self-proclaimed media stars, who offer us nothing in return for our attentions. We could listen to the Michael Pollans, the Charles Eisensteins, the Parker J. Palmers, who encourage intellect, understanding and unification. We could discover new pathways to intellectual stimulation through more creative educational content and less consumption of mindless entertainment.
We could turn off the Entertainment Tonight. We could unplug the TV and turn on the Bach, or Elvis, or Lennon and McCartney. We could dance. We could grab our kids hands, pull them away from the remote or the android and mambo around the room with them. We could twirl them around out on the lawn and pick flowers and lay down with them and stare at the sky . We could read to our babies and create with our children. We could lose ourselves and find our inner child, and remember what it was like before the angst, fear, competitiveness, and inevitability of war became part of our psyche.
We could believe in the validity of honesty, trust and in serving others.
We could concern ourselves more about how we love and less about how we look.
We could start over.
We should start over.
The old story doesn’t work anymore.