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Passions in Poetry

media, violence, and individual emotional reactions

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Midnitesun
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0 posted 09-18-2003 08:36 PM       View Profile for Midnitesun   Email Midnitesun   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Midnitesun


Do you ever get sick of the media's focus on violence, and the hyped fear levels of the general public? Do you ever wonder what is real vs make believe? Do you ever want a reality check?
Rent a copy of Bowling for Columbine (Michael Moore). Then answer a Q or two. Did you cry? How did/or do you react? Did you trust what you saw on the 6 o'clock news to be the truth?

It often concerns me, that my teenage daughter does not cry watching things like this, and actually never cries seeing this sort of thing. We watched this movie together. She says she is never surprised at the level of violence she sees around her. (BTW, the movie was well documented and sensitively presented, and I believe everyone should see it.) But she also says, you see this stuff all the time on TV and in the movies, and so this is just one more scene. The movies simply present what IS already out there,  even though the news and movies only give SOME of what happens every day. It doesn't mean she is insensitive, she just doesn't ever cry. And what imagery makes her cry? She can't even say for sure.
I mention this because I encounter this seemingly "unemotional" reaction frequently. Is my child just "tougher" than me? Maybe. But if someone she is close to is seriously injured or killed, she will cry. Losing an animal she cares about will also make her cry. But I remember she did not even cry once after Sept 11.  She said she was angry and disgusted, but not at all surprised about the terrorists acts, and was annoyed that so many people reacted with shock at something she always expected would happen. But the real issue to her? she was disgusted at how people said things like "If only people weren't such evil sinners, if only the family unit were stronger, if only people didn't watch violent movies, if only (those) parents hadn't let their kids listen to hard rock etc, etc, etc. And for anyone to think that 9/11 or Columbine were THE WORST THINGS that ever happened in the history of the USA, or the world...disgusted her. Not to mention, is annoyed her that people sat and watched hours and hours of the coverage and then went about their business once the media was gone. And she asked, what about the all the murders and rapes and beatings that never make the news? What about war and starvation? human suffering in general?  

Why did I post this thread? Watch this movie, then ask that Q.


[This message has been edited by Midnitesun (09-18-2003 09:30 PM).]

Ringo
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1 posted 09-19-2003 01:17 AM       View Profile for Ringo   Email Ringo   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Ringo

I've never seen the movie of which you speak, and not really being a Michael Moore fan, I'm not sure if I will... I will offer a few thoughts as to your daughters thoughts and reactions, after dealing with similar thoughts and discussions from my own 14 y/o son.
Fisrt, different people react to tragedy, and see tragedy in differing ways. My daughter didn't seem to react at the 9/11 attacks, however, I can still remember the night she woke up screaming for me to save her because there was a building that fell on her. My son was severely P-O'd because he had been to the Towers, and was supposed to go see the Pentagon the following summer.
He understood that there were many people who were never going home again, and he was aware that we had just been hit... however, the act itself didn't really affect him because of the de-sensitization (my word not his) that had occured by the movies that he had seen, the games he had played, and the news reports he had been forced to watch for his current events section of Social Studies.

As far as not thinking that the two events you mentioned being the worst things to have happened, I would have to agree with her. American History is built upon violence, not love of G-d and Freedom as is so assininely taught in our classrooms.
This country was started by a bunch of Barroom drunks and farmers who felt they were too good to follow the rules of the country in which they were citizens, and decided to take over by the use of force, and attacked- and in many cases assassinated- the agents of the rightful government who were only carrying out the orders that had been given unto them. We call it the Revolutionary War, however the fact remains that we started this country (as all countries are invariably started) with violence.
When we teach our children American History in our schools, we spend vast amounts of time teaching them about the wars, the slave revolts, the assassinations of governmental officials (presidents and otherwise), the violence of the US Government attacking the veterans who were only trying to get what was promised them after WWI, the viloence involved in the labor union movements of the early 20th century, and so on...
After spending years and years having this type of material drummed into your head, it is not unusual to find something more upsetting and more violent than Columbine (And Pearl, Texas and Oklahoma and Oregon and Pa and El Cajon, Ca) and 9/11.
And, how many buildings had they seen demolished on the TV as part of Urban Renewal. I am not attempting to compare the two, but rather re-stating something my son said about seeing buildings collapse before.

My vote for the worst event in American history would be either the genocide associated with the Jews in WWII (not exaclty American histopry, I understand, however the pictures of the victims are prominanatly displayed in text books, and on TV) or the Vietnam War. On 9/11 we lost about 3,000 people to the four planes, and we didn't actually see ANY of them die.
In Vietnam, we lost over 50,000 people and it was impossible to turn on the news for a number of years without watching young men getting shot in combat or as spies, or getting blown up, or seeing Vietnamese nationals being burnt by napalm (and seeing the bodies and the survivors), or watching an American Army general shoot a Vietnamese national in the head.
I am not attempting to vindicate, nor vilify anyone or anything that was done in the name of America. I am simply stating the facts as they occurred, and giving a POSSIBLE explaination as to the thoughts of our kids.

We are all equal but we’re individually different
and able to reach the impossible if we try.

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2 posted 09-19-2003 09:37 AM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

We didn't actually see any people die? If one were watching the live coverage just prior to the collapse of the towers one could very well indeed see and hear people dying when they jumped to their deaths.

History has many devasting violent incidents. They are all horrible. My opinion is that 9/11 was one of the most devasting in that it involved the intentional, cowardly, unjustifiable slaughter of innocent civilians.

Everyone does have their own way of dealing with and reacting to tragedy. A lot depends on world view, life experience, etc., and of course how close one is to the tragedy in a personal way. To the ones who lost loved ones on 9/11 in such a gruesome, evil manner, there is no day more devastating. Some people danced in the streets with unbounded joy while others suffered the depths of grief and despair.

This country was not started by barroom drunks and farmers, but by couragous people, who after attempting to work with and reason with the "Crown" believed their was no other option to securing the rights of its citizens endowed by their Creator. You are entitled of course to express your opinion in that regard, Ringo, just I am entitled to express that your opinion nauseates me.

As for American History, that hasn't been part of school curriculum for at least the past 25 years in most school districts across the country. It was replaced with Social Studies in the '70's.

I wouldn't waste my time or money having anything to do with the propoganda spewed forth by Michael Moore. Life is too short.
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3 posted 09-19-2003 10:09 AM       View Profile for Midnitesun   Email Midnitesun   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Midnitesun

Thank you for your reply, Ringo. Much of what you said rings a bell here, as our discussion of the aforementioned events had many similarities. In our discussion, my daughter also brought up all the violent episodes in history she read about in the Bible. Though we are not of the Christian faith, she has read much of the Bible, and noted much violence within both Old and New Testaments. Nothing surprises her (her words) as its obvious humans have always been violent, we just SEE it more vividly/swiftly because of 24/7 media coverage. Because the media in general spends the majority of its time focussing on the elements of Life she (we) do not wish to surround ourselves with, and FUN and HAPPY things seem to always take a back seat. My daughter is typical of most teens in many ways. She is sick and tired of being reminded every moment of her life  that humans are often violent.
Yes, our presentation of History in public schools is tweaked, perverted at best. I've found my own solution to that issue. I have homeschooled Sara for five years now, to be a free thinker and an aware consumer, to become an adult who is aware of farce, deception, dishonesty, and cruelty, but can still recognize/cherish traits of beauty and kindness in nature and people. My hats off to you, for raising two in this world. It's a tough job, the toughest one you'll ever have. And yet? If you are there for them, to listen as well as talk with them, to BE an example of compassion and truth, then perhaps they'll grow up to be the kind of human beings that can change the direction of mankind's history. They hold the keys to the future.
Sorry if I strayed from the subject or got longwinded, but this IS what teaching/raising a child is all about, not about how many trophies or 'A' grades they get, which prestigious university they attend, or what kind of job they seek.
And I can tell by your words, you are a wonderful father/teacher.
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4 posted 09-19-2003 10:21 AM       View Profile for Midnitesun   Email Midnitesun   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Midnitesun

Denise, history is being taught, its just been relabeled. But much of what is taught is only snippets and droplets of the reality, and often based on outright lies. There isn't much indepth time spent on ANY subject these days. Most schoolds spend hours and hours on rules and regulations, how-to-protect-yourself assemblies etc.

I do agree that for those close to NY or Columbine, or who had family or friends who died, these events were devastating, perhaps, the worst they will ever witness in their own lifetimes.
Michael's film, however, was not based upon propaganda. He spent a great deal of time and energy to get to some basic issues, to ask some hard Q's, to get to some issues and seek answers as to why we are such a violent nation. He talked to many people, asked the same Q's, attempted to reveal  elements of truth. I applaud his effort to get past the media gloss and hype, and to go where the real story is...to the very people affected.
Thank you for participating in this discussion.  
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5 posted 09-19-2003 11:31 AM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

American history, as a rule, is not being taught. Social Studies is not "History" renamed. It is the study of different social aspects of the different cultures, races, etc., of the world.

Is this a man that anyone can take seriously, let alone respect?

http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=30367
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6 posted 09-19-2003 11:40 AM       View Profile for Midnitesun   Email Midnitesun   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Midnitesun

Yep. You may have missed the words "biting satire." He does bite. And yes, he can be disgusting at times. But I still defend his right to "exaggerate" and highlight
"truth" from his POV. After all, that IS what satire is all about.
He is as credible in my eyes as the majority of the media/entertainment/political institutions  (Which aren't all that credible most of the time.)


In the last three states I'ved lived in, History is part of the standard curriculum, and students are still tested on it on the national exams. But you are right, it isn't taught in any great detail. You have to search for 'substance' sometimes. But I believe World History and cross-cultural studies are more important in the long run, as this globe seems to shrink yearly.

[This message has been edited by Midnitesun (09-19-2003 12:16 PM).]

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7 posted 09-19-2003 11:50 AM       View Profile for KristieSue   Email KristieSue   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit KristieSue's Home Page   View IP for KristieSue

just because a person appears to be a certain way, does not mean that's how they truly are.  

even though it seems your daughter doesn't cry at what "normal" people cry at, does not mean she does not do so in her own privacy, or have other ways of dealing with her pain/anger/etc.  We all have different ways of dealing with things.

I wouldn't be too concerned, especially if she is holding conversations with you of her feelings. :-)

"Vision without action is a daydream.  Action without vision is a nightmare." -Japanese Proverb
~ KS

Midnitesun
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8 posted 09-19-2003 12:15 PM       View Profile for Midnitesun   Email Midnitesun   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Midnitesun

Thank you for your comments, Kristie. Actually, I am not worried about my daughter, but her seemingly NONreactive approach to life does startle me sometimes.
We've talked about this, and I did say that at her age, I think I was much the same, not wanting to spend MY life having to be concerned about everyone else's life/deaths/misfortunes etc.
I am OVERLYreactive at times, and because I also suffer from high blood pressure, my own response to tragedy and pain inflicted upon others sometimes makes me physically ill. I'm actually glad she isn't as reactive.
As an added note, I remember vividly the very real (but silent)tears she shed when we moved a few years ago, and we were unable to take a stray kitten she had adopted with us to our new location.
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9 posted 09-19-2003 01:20 PM       View Profile for Ringo   Email Ringo   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Ringo

Denise- Yes, as I stated, those were my thoughts, and many many times on this site, I have disagreed with someone, and have willingly and without reservation or regret given them the priveledge of their views. I must respectfully do the same thing with you today.
Yes, history IS being taught in today's society and in the schools... I am assisting my 9 y/o daughter with pre-colonial America and my 14 y/o son with The same basic class, however with a bit of a different view to account for his being older and more able to unsderstand and appreciate more detail. I also, not too many years ago, assisted a foster child with his History class in high school by going to the school and teaching a class on The REAL reasons for the Civil War (And they aren't what Americans have been taught). They were not learning Social Studies, they were learning American history. Yes, the elementary schools do put it under the name Social Studies, however they are learning History.
Secondly, you took exception to me calling the Colonial "patriots" a bunch of farmers and drunks. Fine, you have that right, however, allow me to ofer a few bits of evidence to prove my side of the discussion:
The United States Marine Corps was formed in Tun Tavern (a bar) in Philadelphia in 1775. Those "Patriots" were promised money in place of fighting for the Colonies (it wasn't the United States, yet). The Navy "recruited" people in bars, many times by placing a coin in the mug of some unsuspecting drunk. Once the "recruit" finished his mug of ale, and found the coin in the bottom, he was hauled off to join the Navy. The reason paul Revere's men made that ride all over creation (Paul, himself had been arrested early in the "ride") was because they had to go to the farms to rouse everyone. MOST of the minutemen were farmers who were fighting, more, to protect their land than anything.
As for them being "corageous people attempting to work with the Crown", that is simply what the men who wrote history wanted you to believe. If you will go back and do a SERIOUS and indepth study of the Colonial era, you will find that the taxes were just and fair, and the rebel rousers who lived over here didn't want to pay ANY taxes, and felt that King George didn't have any teeth because he was an ocean away.
The Boston "massacre" happened because the Colonials were throwing rocks and bottles, and assulting the British soldiers tasked with keeping the peace. They fired back in self defense and killed FOUR people. Some massacre, considering the British soldiers were defending themselves.
I could go on and on with too many examples, however I will end it there. One thing that everyone needs to remember is that history is written by those that WON the wars... not by people interested in the truth. The history that our children are being taught in school is based on mis-information, half-truths, and outright lies. As a child, my father instilled several things in me: A DEEP love of country, and- amoung other things- a love for seeking the truth. I have been taught history from BOTH sides my entire life, and as a result, am able to see the Colonials for what they were... ordinary people fighting for their land (as farmers) not for some socio-political gain.
For more information about the truth of American history, I would recommend (amidst the VAST rescources available) a series of books written by Richard Shenkman. He turns a history, and reveals the historical facts as documented.
Just my thoughts

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and able to reach the impossible if we try.

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10 posted 09-19-2003 02:00 PM       View Profile for Opeth   Email Opeth   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Opeth

Interesting points, Ringo. Definitely, there is truth in what you have stated, but as always with historical events, the truth normally lies somewhere between the two opposing views (winners v. losers), albeit, normally much closer to the victor's side.

[Edit Please start a new thread, Opeth, if you want to discuss a point widely divergent from the original topic. Thanks, Ron]

[This message has been edited by Ron (09-19-2003 04:17 PM).]

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11 posted 09-19-2003 04:31 PM       View Profile for Legion   Email Legion   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Legion


quote:
History has many devasting violent incidents. They are all horrible. My opinion is that 9/11 was one of the most devasting in that it involved the intentional, cowardly, unjustifiable slaughter of innocent civilians.


Two words spring to mind – Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

On a scale acts of intentional, cowardly, unjustifiable slaughter of innocent citizens where do these two fit?
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12 posted 09-20-2003 12:20 AM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

Craig, I don't believe that there is ever justification for the intentional slaughter of innocents, Hiroshima and Nagasaki included. They belong on the same scale with all other such acts.

Kacy, no, I didn't miss the "biting satire" reference, and I'm certainly aware of the definition of the word. Moore's disparaging of the victims of 9/11 is not satirical. It's reprehensible, there's no other word for it.

Ringo, while there are a few school districts that have had the widsom to retain History as a subject, it's no longer the norm across this country. Those who are in such districts are fortunate indeed. The rest of us have had to make up for the deficiencies of the educational system ourselves, once we realized that our children didn't even know that Washington crossed the Delaware. We assumed they were being taught American history as we had been.

I tend to wonder how serious a student of colonial history one could possibly be when something as complicated as the Revolution is reduced to "drunks and farmers" who didn't want to pay "just and fair taxes".

The colonists didn't have a problem with "just and fair taxes". They had been paying external duties and tarrifs all along, as well as taxes on their own lands and the lands of the Proprietors (a.k.a. subsidizing the wealthy) and were also subjected to oppressive mercantile trading laws designed to keep the colonies from becoming a manufacturing competitor with Britain.

As if this were not enough, the various state assemblies also provided, voluntarily, for the clothing, lodging, and salary of the British Troops stationed there during various times of war, and were only recompensed a fraction of what was promised back to them by the Crown.

The beginnings of discontent, though, among the colonists, was the passage of the Stamp Act in 1765 on newspapers, books, alamanacs, legal documents and decks of cards. This was considered an internal tax on the productivity of the colonists, something never before done, and with which they did not agree due to the fact that they were not allowed representation in Parliament, and was thus immoral and probably unconstitutional.

In October of that year, representatives from 9 of the colonies met to urge the repeal of the Stamp Act on the grounds of non-representation. Ben Franklin presented these concerns in Britain, and the Act was repealed. Some in Parliament, though, were furious with these 'upstart' colonists, and in 1767 introduced new "external" taxes on glass, paper, china, paint colors and tea, known as the Townshend Duties, for its author, Lord Townshend, one of the most peeved members of Parliament over the repeal of the Stamp Act. The colonists saw this as merely retribution for having won the repeal of the Stamp Act. Resentment began to build.

In 1770 British Troops were sent to enforce the Townshend Duties. In Boston, an angry young colonist insulted a Red Coat, and a fight broke out. Armed and angry Bostonians gathered and taunted the soldiers with "Fire and be damned." They did, killing five colonists. Even though the colonists were armed, they didn't fire at or kill a single soldier. Yep, I'd call that a massacre.

After this incident, Britain agreed to eliminate duties on everything but the tea. They hoped that this would help to ease the tensions while still maintaining their authority to impose duties (by leaving the tax on tea.) The colonists answer was the Boston Tea Party.

The Massachusetts Lower Assembly appointed Ben Franklin as their agent in London. Lord Hillsborough refused to recognize him as a representative, giving the false argument that a representive of the people must have final approval of the governor before the Crown would recognize him. This was also unprecedented and was an attempt to silence the colonists, since the governors were appointed by the Crown.

Having no voice now in Britain, Franklin found a voice through Lord Chatham (former Prime Minister) who presented to the House of Lords an attempted reconciliation on February 1,1771, agreeing that Parliament had authority to regulate trade, to send troops to America, that Massachusets would pay restitution for the Boston Tea Party and make all parties whole, but that only colonial legislatures would have the right to impose taxes, and that the Continental Congress be given official and permanent recognition by Parliament, and that colonists owe loyalty only to the Crown, but not to Parliament. The plan was met with utter disdain.

Franklin continued his diplomatic work in London for the next 4 years in an attempt at reconciliation. Franklin, more than the others was most affectionate to the Crown and reconciliation was his utmost desire. He left London in 1775 rebuffed, dejected and depressed - and returned home to America - a rebel.

I'm aware of the real reason for the Civil War. The Emancipation Proclamation was only aimed at the southern states who weren't going along with Lincoln's "centralizing" scheme for the government. It was the demise of state sovereignty.

Winners and losers write history. So do revisionists.




[This message has been edited by Denise (09-20-2003 12:21 PM).]

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13 posted 09-20-2003 10:30 AM       View Profile for Midnitesun   Email Midnitesun   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Midnitesun

The last point you make, Denise, is the crux of it perhaps.
quote:
Winners and losers write history. So do revisionists.

The 6 o'clock news is often 'revisionist' in nature, and so are many news and magazine presentations. Even the videos and still shots are tweakable these days, by a grade schooler who knows how to edit the imagery  on a standard home PC. My daughter proved this to me last year, when she created (from online News footage) a completely different scene, thereby a completely different, but equally believable interpretation of events.
As for emotions and feelings? Everyone has his/her own way of interpreting life and assigning personal feelings to each event that impacts them daily. When it comes to knowing what is/is not true, even live film footage is as questionnable these days as the ink on the page.  
As a side note, I am often amazed at the narrow views people have about American history. Yes, some of our ancestors were drunks, some were farmers, politicians, merchants, many were housewives. some were slaves and indentured servants. It's hard to draw the line at any one category of person who MADE this country what it is today. I cannot draw that line of history at any given year, nor alongside any individual's actions. It's a huge rolling snowball mass of humanity that created the USA. I just try to understand us as humans in general, and frequently asked some of the same Q's Mr Moore did in his movie. The truth may not, in fact, lie within the film or the media, or even from the memory banks of those interviewed. The perpetrators of the events, if alive, might not even be capable of answering truthfully the main Q's I have asked repeatedly:

WHY? Why did you do this? What was your intent, what did you hope to accomplish?
WHY?
All that the history books or media coverage can ever give me is the WHO WHAT WHEN WHERE HOW...and often, they can't answer those truthfully or accurately.
In the end, we are all left to interpret the WHY's on our own, to ascertain the truth of the others Q's, and to assign each 'event' our individual emotional attachments. My daughter's emotional reaction to the same events is simply different than mine. I guess that's one of the main points I wanted to make with this thread.
Thanks to each of you for your input. Open dialogue is the best way to get at truth, but is no guarantee that what we end up with IS the truth.


[This message has been edited by Midnitesun (09-20-2003 10:50 AM).]

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14 posted 09-20-2003 12:27 PM       View Profile for Denise   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Denise

You seem to have a very bright and talented daughter, Kacy.

Yep, truth can be ellusive. It takes discipline, determination and sometimes even courage in the quest for it. We should never take anybody's word for truth, but search out as many sources as possible before making our determination.

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15 posted 09-20-2003 12:57 PM       View Profile for Midnitesun   Email Midnitesun   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Midnitesun

Thanks for that comment, Denise. Yes, she is bright and creative. Hopefully she will always approach life with open eyes, ears, and mind, tempered by a compassionate heart.
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16 posted 09-20-2003 01:58 PM       View Profile for Janet Marie   Email Janet Marie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Janet Marie

Kac,
I havent seen the movie but for clips of it on Oprah back when it came out. I know I would have a hard time watching it...
It will come as no surprise that I am one to easily cry...you know how us over-emotional moths are. *S*  I have always had a hard time watching the images of violence, war or even natural disaters like the earthquakes,
and gore/slasher/horrow movies and television is something I wont watch at all.

Like you, I had been concerend for a long time about my kids reactions to these images. My son has always seems uneffected and closed off from allowing himself to feel the loss and grief. He's 23 now and still is that way...He's never understod how I could get so upset "over people I dont know" (his words)
My daughter who is 19 rarely cries, but does show concern and shock at things like 911, but wont watch the coverage for very long.

We already know these kids from the last 20 years or so, grew up in the time of cable TV are desensitized...thats a proven fact...these kids grew up with images of violence from news, movies, music videos, video games.

Someone once called them the Terminator generation.  


As I said, I used to worry back when they were younger that the lack of emotion expressed was a sign of lack of compassion and character...but I have come to learn by wathcing them when they had personal loss, and by their daily example, that its not that they lack "soul or spirit" ... its just that they dont wear it on their sleeve like I do,

I think they learned along the way, being so bombarded with images of things that they couldnt change, perhaps to the point they were overwhelmed by it all, that they save it for when its "real" to them...personal.

Both my kids were honor roll, neither has ever had so much as a traffic ticket...
at both their jobs people rave over how polite, kind and generous they are with co-workers and customers.

They have learned to take it all in stride...

and you can bet they were shaking their heads at me yesterday when I was crying watching "my" beloved VA Beach pier fall into the water.  LOL.

Anyway...I dont have any profound answers, just wanted to agree with what you said above about them being different in how they express what we know they do indeed feel deeply inside.
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17 posted 09-20-2003 02:12 PM       View Profile for Midnitesun   Email Midnitesun   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Midnitesun

Heart hugs to you, dear mothy one. We are so very much the same! Yes, I cry when I see a beloved pier fall too! And Sara just stares at me, and sometimes smiles or laughs at my tears. And her responses are almost identical to your son's comments.
Thank you JM, for your reply.
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18 posted 09-20-2003 03:34 PM       View Profile for Ron   Email Ron   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems   Click to visit Ron's Home Page   View IP for Ron

This thread is already pretty much all over the board, covering too many topics to remain focused on any one. And that's a shame, because I think the original topic is an incredibly important one.

Let's throw some stones and see how many birds we can scare (no reason to kill the birds, and my aim makes that unlikely anyway).

Ringo, yes, by your definitions, the men who actually fought the Revolutionary War were mostly drunks and farmers, especially if you allow farmers to be a metaphor for the common working man. Of course, by your definition, that's equally true of every war we've fought since, and likely true in every country in the world. Or did you manage to avoid all the bars when you were in the Corps. I sure know I didn't.

That doesn't really change or reflect on the nature of the conflict, though. In my opinion, you probably picked the one single war America has fought where just about everything, at least on the grander scale, was done for the right reasons. Even a benevolent dictatorship is still a dictatorship. If I had to count the great thinkers of history on just one hand, I'm almost certain I would have to reserve a finger for Thomas Jefferson. To the best of my knowledge, there has never, before or since, been a "revolution" that was first fought with the weapon of due process. Even the Declaration of Independence was contrived as a legal document that, had it been honored as such, would have eliminated the need for war.

You certainly could have picked better examples. Look up the Philippine-American war of 1899, for example. The Balangiga Massacre isn't something typically taught in High School history even when we did teach history. Your point is valid, I think, even if your example is not. American can be viscous little critters, a truth I learned first-hand in 1969. But maybe we should change the subject of that sentence to Humans?

Kacy, I think your concerns about inaccuracy or blatant dishonesty in the news media are largely unfounded. The Fourth Estate is a marvelously effective, self-regulating institution where lies are inevitably discovered and severely punished with a corresponding loss of credibility. There is far too much competition for any widespread conspiracy to survive, and you can be sure that if the Post prints a lie on Monday, the Times will be all over them by Tuesday. Blatant dishonestly, if it exists at all, would have to start and be maintained at a much higher level. And Nixon already discovered how well that would work.

That is NOT, however, to suggest that our news isn't slanted. It is.

The lies are not in what they show us, I think, but perhaps in what they don't show us. That's why it's so important, for anyone who really cares, to read widely. You are always getting someone else's viewpoint, and the only way to counter that is to get a whole lot of someone else's viewpoints. One of the greatest things about the Internet is that we now have international news coverage more easily available.

As to interpreting the Why? behind current events, as well as historical events, I think the greatest tool we have is good literature. Read Shakespeare, Melville, Dickens, and all the other great chroniclers of human nature. These writers are great not just because they could turn a pretty phrase, but because the stories they told revealed important truths about humanity. We haven't changed a whole lot in the past thousand years, and our world is still full of obsessive Ahabs and tragically confused Romeos.

Let's talk about desensitization.

Anyone who has lived through a truly horrific time in their life knows that desensitization is both a normal part of human nature and, perhaps, an absolutely vital part of it. I don't think it's possible to cry every waking moment, and I suspect, were it possible, it would surely lead to despair and maybe to insanity. To survive horror, we refuse to acknowledge its effect on us. We build a fence around the horror, call it normal, and somehow learn to live within its shadow.

However, as vital as this process is to our survival, like everything else in life, desensitization carries a price. It is one side of a two-sided coin, and we can ONLY see one side at a time. Turn over the desensitization, and on the other side you will find Empathy.

Those who empathize with the victims of horror cannot escape the horror. Only by turning over the coin, by burying our ability to empathize, can we fence off the horror and call it normal. That's a high price to pay for anyone. For a teen, a young person still shaping their life, I think the price may be too high. There is a very real danger that as they shape their life with the one side of the coin facing up, they will forget the other side ever existed. I've known grown men who, after just a year of intense desensitization in an Asian jungle, never learned to again adapt to a life of normalcy. They had fenced in the horror so completely they found themselves trapped on the wrong side of the fence. They never learned how to truly feel again.

It sounds terribly cruel to intentionally inflict emotional pain on our own kids, but I think that sometimes that's exactly what we need to do. We need to help them see -- help them FEEL -- the human stories behind the tragedy. We have to cut a path through the fence they are building, not too small, not too big, so they can experience their own sense of empathy. The ability to cry for others, not just ourselves, is too important to risk loosing. Especially in our kids.

How do we accomplish this?

First, I think it's important that we allow ourselves to both feel and express our own pain. Our children can learn only what they see.

Second, I think we need to encourage our children's empathy with stories. Those can take the form of personal conversation, especially conversation sprinkled with questions. "What would you say to someone who called you on a cell phone, scared and trapped and looking for comfort?" Something to move them closer to the human story unfolding. It's a dangerous line to walk, and I honestly don't know where the line is any better than I suspect you do. We don't want to frighten our kids beyond their ability to cope. We don't want to scar them for life. We don't want to feel like lousy parents. But neither should we try to protect them from their own ability to feel.

The stories, I think, can also take the more traditional forms. Fiction and poetry, even completely unrelated to the horrors surrounding our kids, can help them learn to feel for other people. A good writer not only relies on reader empathy, they know every trick and nuance to bring it to the fore. At no other time in history has reading been more important to our young than it is right now. For the span of a few hundred pages, your teen will learn to see their world through another's eyes. They will feel the pain, the triumph, the frustration of another. It might be the only time it is completely safe for them to feel.

How do we encourage our kids to read?

Once again, kids can only learn what they see. If you want your kids to read "A Tale of Two Cities" (as you should), then they should see you reading it. It sure doesn't hurt, either, if you tell them a little of what you're reading, engage them in conversation about the feelings and thoughts the story engenders for you. Raise their curiosity, and soon they'll be bugging you to hurry so they can have their turn. Pick a book that is both at their level and has the depth to be more than just an adventure. I've long since forgotten how old I was at the time, but I still remember the first novel I read as a child. Peter Pan, by J.M. Barrie, made me cry and probably changed my life.

I also think we should encourage our kids to write. Big surprise there, right?  

Statistically, reading and writing really DO go together. Not every voracious reader will admit it, but studies suggest anyone who reads a lot also writes and very probably learned their love of reading from their appreciation of writing. Let me say that again. Writing typically precedes reading. I know that's not the way they teach it in schools, but trust me, it works. Teach a kid to express themselves in fiction or poetry, and they WILL learn to love reading. And until they write, reading will just be something they have to do in school.

I hope it goes without saying, Kacy, that my comments in this thread aren't directed specifically at you or your daughter. I'm not saying she's in danger, because I really don't know her. I'm certainly not suggesting you haven't already taught her to love reading or that you don't talk to her about your own feelings. What I've said isn't so much "to" you as it is because of you. You just opened a can of worms I've been carrying around for a few years.  

Desensitization, especially in our kids, is the single greatest danger we face in this mass communication world of ours. We see too much horror. We must all somehow learn to cope with that, of course. But not at the cost of our humanity.
Midnitesun
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19 posted 09-20-2003 04:45 PM       View Profile for Midnitesun   Email Midnitesun   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Midnitesun

Thank you for your time and input, Ron. I agree, this thread took too many twists and turns, and I considered requesting that it be closed. However, I really hate to put the skids on any honest sincere input.
My daughter is an avid reader, averaging several books and magazine articles each month. I am very lucky to have a child who has never had to be asked to read, as she spends most of her allowance money (and mine) buying books. We spend many hours talking about current events, and life in general. Since I've homeschooled her for five years now, we spend a great deal of time interacting on many levels. She is also a good writer, maintaining her position in the top 1% of the entire country on all national exams. (OK, I'll quit bragging now.)

Desensitization may very well be the end of civilization as we know it, but I sure hope future generations can find their way through the maze and the garbage each generation leaves behind.

Thank you so much, Ron, for giving me a forum where I can freely express myself.

and for giving me an edit function LOL

[This message has been edited by Midnitesun (09-20-2003 04:48 PM).]

Janet Marie
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since 01-22-2000
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20 posted 09-20-2003 11:45 PM       View Profile for Janet Marie   Email Janet Marie   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Janet Marie

Earlier tonite I was with my 16 year old niece, and in the course of conversation about her classes this year, she mentioned in her Literature class they were doing a section on Alfred Hitchcock and she said they watched the movie "The Birds",
she said the class was laughing so hard at it and found it so rediculous that anyone could have ever thought that was a "scary movie"
Oh but it was...I can recall coming off the couch screaming back in the 60's when me and my sis saw that for the first time on the old portable black and white...and remember "The Blob"...LOL
We had crows and masses of rolling goo...
They have Freddy and Jason with chain saws and axes. (She said the kids laugh at those too) The world news is scarier than Freddy.

Anyway...no real new point to this..but I couldnt help but think of this thread as she laughed about how comical they found that movie.
Midnitesun
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21 posted 09-21-2003 12:31 AM       View Profile for Midnitesun   Email Midnitesun   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Midnitesun

JM, my daughter laughed the first time she saw JAWS. Guess we must be getting old. Sara couldn't understand why anyone thought that movie was scary, since the music was 'corny' and the shark was ridiculously funny looking, not scary. She loved the part where the shark 'hurled itself up onto the boat' (her words) That scene had her in a fit of laughter. Go figure.
Thanks for this, I needed some comic relief tonight, as I had some really horrible news this afternoon. But that's a whole 'nother topic.
Local Rebel
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Southern Abstentia


22 posted 09-21-2003 12:47 PM       View Profile for Local Rebel   Email Local Rebel   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Local Rebel

Before I add what I have to add first I should commend Ron on writing one of his best expositions ever here -- I'd like to see him expand it into an essay.  The fact that I happen to agree with most of what he's said doesn't bias my opinion whatsoever though -- and that's where I want to add my two cents to the conversations.

Ron said;
quote:

Kacy, I think your concerns about inaccuracy or blatant dishonesty in the news media are largely unfounded. The Fourth Estate is a marvelously effective, self-regulating institution where lies are inevitably discovered and severely punished with a corresponding loss of credibility. There is far too much competition for any widespread conspiracy to survive, and you can be sure that if the Post prints a lie on Monday, the Times will be all over them by Tuesday. Blatant dishonestly, if it exists at all, would have to start and be maintained at a much higher level. And Nixon already discovered how well that would work.

That is NOT, however, to suggest that our news isn't slanted. It is.

The lies are not in what they show us, I think, but perhaps in what they don't show us. That's why it's so important, for anyone who really cares, to read widely. You are always getting someone else's viewpoint, and the only way to counter that is to get a whole lot of someone else's viewpoints. One of the greatest things about the Internet is that we now have international news coverage more easily available.



This is an entirely accurate and insightful statement.  There are some things that aren't quite covered in it though.

Moore is a propagandist.  The news media at large are propagandists.  That doesn't mean that they 'lie', and Ron is quick to point out that the real deception of propaganda is not that it doesn't tell the truth -- but that it fails to tell the whole truth.

Moore tells the truth as it is conditioned by his bias.  If it suits his goal and helps him tell his story then he puts it in.  

The media is no different.  When I was first going into journalism way back when -- one of the reasons I decided not to pursue that path was because of the 'causes' that bias the media.  And it may not be as sinister as you think -- or maybe it is.

I came from the 'all the news that's fit to print' school of thought.  But when I was editing a newspaper the school of thought was 'all the news that fits we print'.  Literally.  Physical dimensional constraints of the newspaper and getting the darn thing out on time were more important in the end than what the story said.  The text came off the line-o-type.  We'd literally cut it and paste it up.  If it couldn't fit it got chopped.  If there was an advertisement that needed to go in it got preference.  Sometimes the copy we put in was severely mangled just to try to make it fit the column inches available.

The media is dominated by cash.  The cash streams are simple to follow.  Advertisers and subscribers --except -- in television it's pretty one sided -- the advertisers dominate -- but in order to command ratings which gets the advertisers the TV outlets still have to cater to what the public wants.

Perhaps it is the most severe propaganda of all to have an estate that tells us what we want to hear.
Midnitesun
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23 posted 09-21-2003 03:23 PM       View Profile for Midnitesun   Email Midnitesun   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for Midnitesun

Reb, thanks for jumping into this thread.
I responded somewhere in this thread that Moore didn't produce propagnada. That was a fib on my part !!! LOL, everything on the screen, on the radio, and in print has a slant, as Ron so aptly pointed out. I regularly read news sources from around the world, not just the USA, as does my daughter. It is vital to get info from as many sources as possible to get a fuller, hopefully more accurate picture of the real world. I also agree it's harder to cover-up and fool the public IF they actually do their homework, and read from a variety of sources. Unfortunately, too many people I encounter only get their 30 min +/- fix from a handfull of news groups, and often rely on half a dozen headlines and buzzwords for content.
I do think several new threads could easily spin off this one; the desensitization issue, the believability of the media, public education, and the importance of studying history.  
hush
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since 05-27-2001
Posts 1693
Ohio, USA


24 posted 09-26-2003 04:02 PM       View Profile for hush   Email hush   Edit/Delete Message      Find Poems  View IP for hush

Well... if we're talking about 'straight news,' I wouldn't call chasing an infirm Cheston around with a picture of a dead child a straight story. Moore is entertaining, and incendiary, and I think I trust mainstream news more than I trust his theatrical interpretation of events. It's not to say I don't like him- his performance pieces do raise awareness of issues... but so do Bill O'Reilly's rants. The key is going "oh, hey, I didn't know this happenned, let me go look it up!"

Speaking of desensitization... it happens. It's happenned to me... I didn't cry about 9-11 (well, actually, I did once when they showed all the memorials and missing persons signs, so I take that back) but I remember watching it, as a senior in high school in my contemporary literature class, and turning to a friend to say "wow, this is scary." She shrugged and replied "I guess it has potential to be scary" and continued with her conversation she was having with someone else.

...
 
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