This is my column in this month’s SC Baptist Courier.  We take violence far too lightly, whether we see it in entertainment or on the news.


Wholly Healthy: Viewing Violence

One of the things I always told my sons as they grew into adulthood was to avoid fights. And that the best way to avoid fights is generally to keep one’s mouth shut and not argue with angry people. It can be a tall order for a young male, full of life, health and testosterone, but it’s an important bit of wisdom.
These days our country has seen a lot of violence, brought to us daily on news-feeds and online videos. We also see it on movies and television shows. And in the process, we may become a little callous to what violence can mean to real human beings.
I have, over the course of my career, seen a lot of the victims of violence. I have seen gunshot wounds, beatings, stabbings and lacerations. And I can safely say that humans are far more vulnerable than we like to believe (and more than actors would suggest on screen).
As such we should do our best to avoid inflicting violence or being victims of it. And if that means avoiding large gatherings of angry people, then so be it. It certainly involves being aware of danger and escaping as quickly as possible.
It is unfortunate that we view violence so casually. However, gunshot wounds (for example) are often far more complex and dangerous than the ‘hero’s wound’ to the shoulder that seems to afflict the ‘good guys’ in film. We know that bullets to the chest, abdomen and head can be fatal, but large blood vessels are found in every extremity, and they can bleed with shocking, life-ending speed.
We so easily forget the danger of relatively simple things. A ball-bat or club to the head can induce hemorrhage of the brain with death, along with seizures, long-standing pain and potentially permanent neurological damage. Choking can cause loss of airway and death.
Facial injuries, even from fists, can cause blindness, and can require surgery to repair the fragile, tiny bones around the eye. Loss of teeth can be very painful and can also be debilitating and cosmetically challenging.
The old adage goes, ‘never bring a knife to a gun-fight.’ But a knife is absolutely as lethal as any firearm in the right setting. Few things are as horrible as watching the bright red life-blood drain from someone who has been slashed or stabbed in a fight.
Even if they do not die, those who are stabbed might end up requiring extensive surgery of the chest, removal of intestines, repair of other organs, or even a colostomy due to bowel injury. Extremity cuts can result in loss of nerve or tendon function for life.
My point is simply that we mere mortals are made in the image of God. And I suspect, he didn’t mean for us to take so lightly the misery, the grief, the pain and the life-long disability that our rage and violence can produce.


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