THE repeated airing on Romanian television of the execution of the Ceausescus during the recent upheaval in Eastern Europe reminded me of reading about the time when the public hanging of a criminal was considered a major festive occasion for a community. Men, women, and children would gather in town, waiting with anticipation, and would sometimes even cheer as the execution took place. Although this kind of event still occurs in some places in the world, people today generally wouldn't choose to view an execution, would they? Certainly, we wouldn't consider a public killing entertainment, would we?
Think carefully. What about the innumerable murders viewed in movie theaters and on television? Don't viewers cheer at the killing of the ``bad guy''? Much of what is considered entertainment today plays on a morbid attraction to violence. Even some television news programs have begun re-creating crimes, hoping to attract more viewers.
Whether this kind of ``entertainment'' causes more crime and violence is a hotly debated issue. But one thing seems clear: filling our eyes, ears, and minds with such things can't be uplifting, or make us better, happier, more peaceful people. How could it? Violent entertainment is not rampant because of the benefits it brings to society but because of that morbid pleasure many people seem to find in watching evil. This is the same motivating factor that causes a crowd of spectators to roar when hockey players fight on the rink, or that causes drivers to slow down at the scene of an accident to see the injured victim.
In our hearts we all want to be happy, peaceful, and productive. The Bible shows that achieving these ends requires obedience to God, who is good. Christ Jesus, the Way-shower, showed us the way to overcome the violence of the world as well as find true happiness and satisfaction. He was occupied with preaching, teaching, and demonstrating reality -- which he called the kingdom of God and which he taught is within man. He taught us that we are all in truth the children of God -- spiritual, good, pure, innocent, joyful, peaceful, loving.
We need to identify ourselves correctly as God's good children, attracted only to good, God, Spirit. On this basis we can increasingly conquer the false attraction to evil, recognizing it as a temptation to deny the allness of God, good. We can see that viewing evil as entertainment turns us away from acknowledging -- and experiencing -- God's goodness. Then we'll be less tempted to watch scenes that actually are depicting lies about life and man; instead we'll want to work to destroy those lies by living as God's children, expressing goodness, peace, and purity.
Obviously we can't ignore the problems of the world. But the way to solve them is not to magnify evil and be so impressed by it that we lose sight of spiritual reality. Instead, we need to have the Mind of Christ, who healed all kinds of sin by seeing the fundamental nothingness of evil in the face of the presence and allness of good.
A statement by Mary Baker Eddy, a devoted follower of Christ Jesus and the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, shows why ``entertaining'' the violent entertainment so prevalent today is destructive. She states, ``Entertaining the common belief in the opposite of goodness, and that evil is as real as good, opposes the leadings of the divine Spirit that are helping man Godward: it prevents a recognition of the nothingness of the dream, or belief, that Mind is in matter, intelligence in non-intelligence, sin, and death.''1
We're really being deceived if we accept violence as reality -- or even support violence as entertainment. As we follow ``the leadings of the divine Spirit that are helping man Godward'' and express the kingdom of God within our thinking, we can actually help to elevate and purify the world's mental atmosphere and thus contribute to reducing the violence and evil that oppress so many. Filling our thought with God's allness and refusing to give in to the false attraction to evil, we support and hasten the ultimate, inevitable victory of good over evil.
The Bible shows us what it is that truly satisfies and brings progress to us and our world. ``Whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.... And the God of peace shall be with you.''2
1Miscellaneous Writings, p. 49. 2Philippians 4:8, 9. You can find more articles like this one in the Christian Science Sentinel, a weekly magazine.
BIBLE VERSE: Praise ye the Lord. I will praise the Lord with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation. The works of the Lord are great, sought out of all them that have pleasure therein.