The Super Bowl was February 5 this year. Did you pay attention to the responses some people had watching it on T.V.? “Kick ‘im in the head.” “Squash ‘im into the ground.” Followed by lots of four-letter words, yelling at the players, and throwing things across the room. And did you listen closely to some of the talk in the stands? “Kill ’em!” “Take ’em out!” “Crush ’em!”
This kind of behavior at sporting events, especially football games, is common. Violence spreads like a disease to the fans, and even viewers who aren’t fans. The talk is violent. The feelings are violent. And sometimes the behavior is even violent.
This violence during a sporting event is normalized in our society. Just like violence is normalized in other occurrences in our society. For example, in the campaign for the presidential election. In a recent debate, candidates were asked about “life and death violence.” Of the three candidates who responded…
One answered: “Andrew Jackson had a pretty clear-cut idea about America’s enemies: Kill them.”
Another responded: “Of course you take out our enemies, wherever they are. These people declared war on us. They’ve killed Americans. We go anywhere they are, and we kill them.”
These are candidates for the presidency of the United States of America and they sound just like players or fans in a violent sporting event.
We saw this during the first Iraq War, in 1990. Images of the violence that occurred during the war were televised nationwide. The natural human reaction to that would have been horror. Yet the media reporters were reporting it just as though it was a football game! And then those watching… the citizens acted just like fans, and ardent and violent fans at that.
If we want to know why the campaigns are so very negative? We have only to look at these comments. Too many candidates consider the election process a war. Too many candidates consider each other the enemy. And too many candidates are out to take out their enemy . . . figuratively speaking, that is. Although some people, tragically, get so caught up in the “war for the presidency,” or other political wars, that they actually take it on themselves to literally kill the political leader they consider their enemy. (Abraham Lincoln. William McKinley. John Kennedy. Bobby Kennedy.)
This exists in our sports events. In our election process. And in everyday bullying. When we feel powerless, we make someone else the enemy and go after them. Try to destroy them. Verbally. Emotionally. Mentally. And tragically, sometimes even physically. (Gabby Gifford.)
Although he has his own issues, one of the contenders took a step toward wisdom, replying…
“Here we have a nation that we are becoming constantly trying to kill people who we consider our enemies… So I would say that maybe we ought to consider a golden rule in — in foreign policy. Don’t do to other nations… what we don’t want to have them do to us.”
We need to look at how our society has become as it is… how it has become so violent on so many levels. Home, school, place of worship, business, community, sporting events, and all over our world. Violence is more present than we allow ourselves to know. And it is more normalized than we allow ourselves to acknowledge. It starts when we are very young — younger than you may imagine — and it grows in us as we grow, becoming more dangerous the more our bodies and minds grow.
We consider too many people our enemies, without even realizing it. And we are at war with too many people and things — other humans, animals, and our earth itself. And if we are so at war with others, it means we are also at war within ourselves. Instead of being a time for continued warring, this time in our country and our world could be a time for deep healing… healing of both the wars within us and the wars outside and all around us.
© Judith Barr, 2012.