No. 659



If you will go to a good dictionary and look up the word “community” you will find a number of different definitions. My Webster’s New World Dictionary says that community is “The people living in the same district, city, etc., under the same laws.” It also describes community as “those who have ownership or participation in common: a community of social life.”
In the early days of our nation’s history, about 95 percent of our citizens lived on the farm, but that has changed to the point where now less than 3 percent of our citizens earn their livelihood from farming. In short, people in large numbers moved to where the jobs were, and this is what has created thousands of communities, large and small, all across our nation.
We have hundreds of communities that sit off to themselves and have a distinct boundary (city limits) and you know when you get there by reading the sign on the highway. The population density of many others has grown to the point that you go from one community to the next without even realizing you have changed ZIP codes. My point is this: We are a nation of communities and, apart from federal and state laws, operate pretty much as we choose to govern ourselves. You will find moral and ethical standards vary greatly from one community to the next. Going back to what I said earlier, the thing that binds a community together is jobs, because without a source of jobs and income, vast numbers of people will leave and move somewhere else.
This is really the backdrop for something that has happened in our communities over the past several decades that is very serious and threatens to tear the very fabric that binds us together as Americans. What I am referring to is the constant threat of violence and sexual predators that is in no one’s best interest, except maybe those who profit from the misery of others. I believe, and it’s borne out by studies, that much of the violence we see is the result of children spending thousands of hours playing violent video games and watching violent television programs.
As one who has spent a good portion of his life studying how the mind works, literacy, education and human behavior, you would have to get up very early in the morning to convince me that this does not have a negative impact on children. Sometime back, I saw on a television newscast where a 12- to 14-year-old boy was saying, “The reason I like violent video games is because I get to kill people.”
In light of what I have just shared, here is a question I would like to ask you to ponder, “Why should a few people earn millions of dollars manufacturing and selling products that sow seeds of violence and pornography in the minds of children and adults, while the rest of us in society have to suffer the consequences?”
If we are to ever change the culture of violence, like a shooting somewhere every day, we must do it in the communities of America. As long as it’s profitable it will never be done in Hollywood or Washington, D.C. Can we agree on that? If you are a parent, grandparent, educator, community leader or a taxpaying citizen, here is something that should be of interest to you. In the interest of our nation’s children, our “Bookcase for Every Child” committee has gone on record as opposing violence and sexual abuse. We are asking parents and grandparents to eliminate violent video games and television programs from their children’s participation.
A lot of parents and grandparents will not do this because they never get the word or do not believe it’s that harmful. However, a lot will, and together we can build on that and start a movement that will spread all across our country. The Internet is a great tool that helps all of us. I use it every day. Unfortunately, it is also the source of filth and pornography that is inflaming the passions of lonely, sick people who will someday act out their passions. I don’t know how to curb this other than coming back to the home and parents who will foster the right kind of values in their children. As one commercial says, “I’m just blocking you for the kid’s sake.”
This is why we must start while children are young, for the sake of future generations. Over time, our bookcase project can really make a difference, because we focus on young children and we focus on the home where these battles must be won. You understand that what I have been saying is not a radical approach, but rather some “common sense” thoughts and suggestions that will offer hope and encouragement for those who feel they are fighting this battle all alone.
After you read this, please begin to spread the word to eliminate violent video games and television programs (and children can help, too) so our children can have a brighter future. Many readers tell me they clip my columns and send them to family and friends. This would be a good one to share.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To support literacy, buy his book: “Learning, Earning & Giving Back.”)