Lessons from Port Arthur?

In the days following the tragedy at Port Arthur, television networks responded by pulling movies depicting violence off the program schedule for the following days, because it was felt inappropriate to screen such violent materials in the light of the events.

Does such a response tell us that it will be all right to view such gratuitous violence when memory of this massacre is dulled? That we must somehow dissociate screen events from the realities of everyday life? It might have been better to air those programs on as scheduled so that we might understand the real impact of what is portrayed to us.  Perhaps then we might appreciate what we are really being sold in the name of entertainment.

The sad truth is that before Christmas arrives, the vast majority will settle comfortably in arm-chairs to enjoy the exploits of “Terminator 2” without even associating it with the 35 killed at Port Arthur.

Politicians are right to re-evaluate the availability of guns in society in the wake of this horrendous waste of life.  But are we happy to merely reduce the availability of guns while allowing minds to be fed with violence daily?

It is incumbent upon us as God’s people to seek peace, to be peace-makers.  We need to be vigilant in what we watch as “entertainment” and the values it conveys, as well as being vigilant about the violence which we condone as appropriate in human relationships - not just physical violence, but emotional and spiritual violence, that which destroys that which is human in us all.

The chaplain at the Hobart hospital was reported as admitting that we are all like Martin Bryant in one way.  Let us seek to eradicate the violence in our own lives, as well as the violence perpetrated with guns.

May 12, 1996
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