Tuesday, November 09, 2010

A History of Violence ... Leads to a Future of Violence

Hockey season is back, and because I'm now living with my dad, there's a lot of hockey on the television. I always enjoyed going to Predators games, but, like baseball, I just can't get as jazzed about watching hockey at home compared to actually being at a game. But that isn't the reason for this post, as one might have guessed from the title. My main problem with hockey: fighting.

Before everyone gets up in arms over this, let me say that I've already heard that argument that it's part of the culture of the game. So what? And, more importantly, why? And, to be fair, it isn't just hockey. I find UFC to be beyond barbaric, and I really don't get the point of boxing. I mean, I GET the point is to knock out your opponent, but I just don't get how that has any value or purpose being a sport. But that is simply my opinion, and seeing as how the sport is fighting, the fighting aspect can't be eliminated.

But why can't grown men playing in a socially acceptable competitive sport refrain from punching one another, and why don't the officials stop these things? It's a penalty for obvious reasons, yet they don't break it up as soon as it happens. Usually it has to go on a while or someone has to get pulled to the ice before anyone skates in to stop it. My theory: people like to watch the fights. And, yes, I'm aware that that is the bigger problem.

Why do we rely on violence for entertainment? There are plenty of other societies in which hockey is played, and not all of these societies have the kind of violent nature that seems inherent in us. I do enjoy a violent movie, but I would have a far different opinion if I were watching film of an act of actual, real violence. Movie violence isn't real, and it's usually unbelievably over the top. It's easy to differentiate between the two.

If things don't go the way we want, should we resort to violence? At home? School? Work? Our kid's little league game? Where do we draw the line? When do we decide to change who we are in order to ensure a better life for who we will be? We're becoming desensitized to the things that should disturb us. It's entirely possibly that I'm a little too sensitive about this, as I recently brought up the use of phrases like "hit me/you up" and "hit me/you back" - and not just because I imagine that's how Kevin Federline talks. As a general rule, and I'm probably not alone here, I don't like anyone to refer to hitting me in any way, not hitting me up, hitting me back, or hitting that. No hitting. Choose better words - it's why we have so many.

But this pales in comparison to violence toward children. I can see the argument for spanking up to a certain age. Before children have a fully developed moral compass, and before they have the vocabulary and understanding to converse with adults, I understand giving a three-year-old child a smack on the hand when he or she is about to touch a hot stove. Studies show, however, that once a child reaches the age of five, the sense of right and wrong is there. Misbehaving at that point is intentional, meaning the child knows he or she is doing wrong. The important thing is that they understand why the rules are the way they are. But let's get back to the violence argument.

I've been told that I'll feel differently about this when I have children. I doubt that. There's a part of me that recognizes that I don't have the complete experience to say definitively what I will do as a parent. If I have a two-year-old throwing a temper tantrum in the middle of a department store, I may feel a spanking is in order. I don't know for sure. But if I can't communicate with a seven-year-old without resorting to violence, maybe I shouldn't be a parent.

I don't think spanking is the equivalent of bad parenting. I understand it up to the age of five. After that, though, I just don't get it. I've had plenty of conversations with kids that age, and they're certainly capable of talking about and understanding right and wrong, appropriate behavior, and how they feel. But if we teach them that violence is how to control an other out-of-our-hands situation, we're really just increasing the odds that our children will grow up to be violent adults.