Facing the violence in our world

“THE SOUND OF MUSIC” controversial? (20th Century Studios).

Me and some other guys stabbed another guy to death.

At that same spot, a girl died of poisoning.

That was a a “few” years ago during a sixth grade Shakespeare Festival at a local public school. I was Marcus Brutus and my associates – using plastic swords – fatally ventilated Julius Caesar to death in a scaled-down version of the play by the same name.

Marilyn, playing Queen Gertrude in “Hamlet,” drank of vial of some lethal concoction and expired right there on stage.

All that violence took place, of course, on stage in front of students and parents a long time ago. We got applauded.

In Fullerton there’s a controversy about a youth staging of “A Sound of Music,” a story made famous by the film starring Julie Andrews. In the original proposed version, pupils portraying Nazis wear the swastika and shout “Heil Hitler.” A controversy has ensued, as you might expect.

While a more circumspect educational operation might have said ixnay on the swastikanay, let’s face it. Kids are exposed to a ton of violence and prejudice every day.

Toy sections in stores are filled with Nerf guns, which – while not too dangerous – represent the shooting of one person by another. Video games and TV shows depict many evil characters threatening innocents.

A more-than-cursory reading of religious texts from just about all faiths includes gory sequences of man’s inhumanity to man. Recent research about the impact of social media suggests there is also a lot of “kids’ inhumanity to kids,” in the form of cyberbullying, shaming and worse. I suspect very few of these incidents come from anyone watching someone else sing “Climb Every Mountain.”

We are steeped in violence and tribalism. Two of our most popular sports are football and stock car racing, and the snippets that appear on ESPN Sports Center often involve particularly forceful tackles and car crashes.

The argument is that the “little sponges” that kids are will be influenced by certain dangerous images. But I ask in reply what kind of positive images are the parents giving to those same kids?

If a few minutes of play-acting in the multi-purpose room can give your kid a desire to annex Austria, you have bigger problems than a grade school play. Climb your own mountain toward teaching your child about right and wrong, and how evil will always be in our world, and we must be brave enough to reject and resist it.

Jim Tortolano’s Retorts appears on Wednesdays and Saturdays.

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