Point of view: Innocence abroad

I was in a camp near Khao Lok, Thailand, for people who had lost their homes in the tsunami last December. The camp was well constructed: Each family had two rooms and electricity to power fans, radios, and televisions. As I poked around, talking with people and making pictures, I heard a screech of tires and the rat-a-tat of machine-gun fire coming from one room. I made my way to the source of the noise and found a group of kids gathered around a Sony PlayStation. "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City" was blazing on the screen. It was so unexpected, I was taken aback. Halfway around the world, and I'm confronted by what I consider one of the worst examples of Western culture: a violent video game. I watched them play, hearing them laugh and cheer as they enjoyed the electronic diversion. I wandered away, self-righteously muttering about negative impacts of globalization. But when I came back moments later, the TV was off and the children had vanished. Where had they gone? "They've gone outside to play," I was told. And as we drove out of the camp, there they were on a swing set, laughing and cheering. I breathed a sigh of relief.

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