There is an old proverb “As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.” I find myself concerned about the proliferation of violence in our society, particularly in video games popular among the young. It is fascinating that a view of the naked human body in all its natural glory is likely to earn a movie an R rating while violence escapes with a GP rating.
There is no doubt in my mind that some desensitization toward violence and human suffering occurs, some lessening of empathy. Perhaps the vast majority shrug it off without permanent ill effect. Yet if only 1% out of 300 million Americans suffer ill effects, some increase in aggression, from the saturation of carnage that pollutes our daily lives, that represents 3 million with an increased proclivity toward fighting, cruelty, hostility, or brutality.
Thus I am encouraged by a movement in elementary schools in California to ban Halloween costumes that are scary, gory, or depict bloody characters, violence or horror figures. (The New York Times, October 30, 2009, “Schools Encourage Less Scary Costumes”)
“As the twig is bent, so grows the tree.”
(Original quote: “’Tis education forms the common mind, Just as the twig is bent, the tree’s inclined.” — Alexander Pope, 1734, “Epistle to Cobham”