After waiting for most of the lurid sensationalism to die down, and actual facts to emerge, one can begin to come to terms with the terrible tragedy that occurred April 20th in the high school in Colorado. One would like to view this horrible event as an isolated incident. This is not the case. There are also incidences of similar shootings at schools in other parts of the country. These incidents have a common thread: young men filled with hate.
Some media pundits will blame the firearms they used. That is about as useful as blaming peopleís cars for drunk driving. Some will say that they are just angry young men and nothing can be done. While their anger may be a contributing factor, the story of angry young men is as old as the hills. Why is it that we suddenly have a rash of young men shooting bunches of their classmates?
These particular young men were known to have repeatedly watched the movie "Natural Born Killers". This movie glorified serial killers who commit an orgy of mass murder. This was apparently presented as shock and humor. They also had a favorite video game called Doom, the object of which is to move through a building shooting humanoid monsters. Their favorite music was by Marilyn Manson, a devoted Satanist who belittles the value of life.
The potential for evil waits within all of us. Likewise the potential for great good. Either of these seeds of good and evil can sprout and grow depending on which one we cultivate. Itís true the evil seems to grow on its own sometimes. But we should never give that evil free rein, or water and feed and nurture it. That is what these two young shooters in Colorado did. They carefully cultivated that evil by watching violent movies. They fed and watered that evil by listening to satanic music. They trained that evil by playing violent video games. Those two so actively and deliberately grew that evil seed until, like a spiritual version of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", it took them over completely.
If they hadnít immersed themselves in such a bath of evil would they still have been angry young men? Maybe. But then maybe the worst they would have done was broken a window. Some blame their parents for not knowing what they were up to. The parents did know, (one of the shooters had pro-Hitler magazines laying all over the house) they just didnít do anything about it.
The lesson for the rest of us is so obvious that most miss it. You can actively help your mind to make good moral decisions, by doing things like reading the Bible, prayer, and going to Mass. You can also adversely affect your ability to make good moral decisions by exposing yourself to bad influences. If one repeatedly watches violence oneís aversion to it is lessened. Watch violence long enough it wonít even bother you at all. It can even be played for laughs. Play violent video games long enough and shooting people can seem like a game. Listen to a satanist long enough and committing mortal sins will seem like a good idea.
The entertainment media is permeated by the culture of death. Like a towel that has been used to sop up the corruption from a festering wound, television, movies, and much of the music produced today are soaked through with the moral pus of violence and immorality that exudes from our sick society. Anyone who actively watches the filth that spews across the television or movie screens is rubbing their eyes with the pus-soaked rag of moral corruption. Anyone who listens to music with immoral lyrics is injecting that corruption into his brain. It is no accident so many are infected with moral degeneracy.
It is not good enough just to complain. It is no good to expect the government or some other agency to clean it up. It is up to each of us to not look at it. If you have any music with immoral lyrics, throw it out. If you have any violent video games in your house, throw them out. If you have any violent movies in your home, throw them out. That includes your favorite Mel Gibson "Lethal Weapon" collection or Clint Eastwood spaghetti western. If there is even a chance that your family might see violent images or immoral situations on television, get rid of your television. The children will complain but try to explain as best you can.
Catholicism is a lifestyle, not a social club. We are called to be the leaven of society. At first many would think it strange that we donít line up for the latest round of television or media hysteria. But eventually most would just grow to accept it from us. Many converts were made to the early Church for the very reason that the early Christians were somehow different. It would be wonderful if today Catholics were known to be different for their rejection of the media due to its violence and immorality.
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Published by The Minnesota St. Thomas More Chapter of Catholics United for the Faith, June 1999.