Will there ever come a day when we turn on the television or open a newspaper without seeing horrific headlines?
This morning’s news brought tears to my eyes: Gunman kills 12 in Colorado movie theater: http://www.cnn.com/2012/07/20/us/colorado-theater-shooting/index.html
The story is everywhere, as well it should be. People need to hear about such tragedies. They need to know the world isn’t always a beautiful place. They need to be aware. And they need an opportunity to pray for their fellow man.
But are we getting bombarded with tragic news too often? Is it warping our minds, warping our children? Is a constant diet of death and destruction eroding our faith and creating sadistic killers?
Are they Mayan’s right? Are we headed for the inevitable destruction of mankind? Is the Mayan calendar accurate?
Inarguably, there seems to be an increase in violence throughout the world. Murder and mayhem are everywhere. So much death and tragedy.
Is it any wonder some believe the world is coming to an end on December 12, 2012?
Or is it just the numbers that make it seem as if the world is a more violent place?
In 1350, the world population was only 370 million. By the early 1900’s it had exploded to 2 billion people. Today, there are over 7 billion people living on our planet from 196 different countries.
With more people, comes a greater need for news. Countries are divided and subdivided into smaller cities, towns, and provinces. Each of those smaller divisions has news outlets in the form of television, newspapers, radio and the internet. And each of those outlets is competing for its share of the public audience.
So, is there more violence in the world? Inarguably. But is that violence disproportionately greater than in the past when compared to the current population?
News-grabbing headlines are nothing new. More people will pick up a paper to read about a tragic event than about a man saving a child from drowning. It’s like a train wreck. We don’t want to know, but we can’t look away. It’s been that way since cavemen painted the news.
Crimes against humanity have been occurring since those caveman days. Per capita, there may not be more crimes, but there are faster and better outlets for spreading tragic news.
In 1807, a London headline read: Murder and Indecent Mutilation of Young Harlot.
Ann Webb had moved to London from the country and found “the streets of Convent Garden are paved with bawds waiting to entice woud-be servants into a life of shame.”
It enticed Ann. She changed her name to Elizabeth Winterflood and accepted “protection” from a carpenter named Thomas Greenway. a cruel, abusive man. When Miss Winterflood attempted to leave him, he tracked her down to her favorite street corner where the two got into a heated argument. Around 2:00 a.m. Miss Winterflood was found raped and beaten on the sidewalk. Her breasts had been cut off and tossed under a cart.
Mr. Greenway was charged but later acquitted of the crime because the jury was more appalled by Miss Winterflood’s occupation than by the untimely death she’d met.
On December 7, 1811 around midnight, Timothy Marr sent his maid to buy oysters. When she returned home, she found the door bolted. No one answered her knock. When a watchman helped her break in, they found Mr. Marr beatened to death by a seaman’s maul left on the counter. His throat had also been cut. His wife, apprentice, and infant child were killed in a similar manner as they slept. A week later, a landlord and his wife were also viciously attacked and killed.
In 1812, a British Prime Minister was assassinated in the lobby of the House of Commons. And an 1820’s headline read: Conspirators Kill Constable after Bombing Plot.
A headline story from an 1828 Edinburgh paper read: “The hanging of William Burke in Edinburgh’s Grassmarket two days ago made Christmas merry for the citizenry. When his body was taken to Surgeons’ Square for dissection, there was almost a riot as it seemed the multitudes who wished to see him served like his victims would be unable to gain access.”
For more than a year, William Burke and William Hare had killed 16 people and sold the bodies to the local surgeon’s porter. Hare ran a boarding house and when one of his tenants died of natural causes, he sold her body to the local surgeon for dissection practice. He made so much money that he and Mr. Burke devised a plan where they enticed the poor into Hare’s Inn for food and libations. When the victim was too drunk to stand, Burke suffocated the unsuspecting victim with a pillow. Hare then sold the body to the surgeon’s porter who in turn, delivered the body to the surgeon who believed the victims died after an evening of imbibing too freely of intoxicating spirits.
Despite such a gruesome crime, I doubt anyone in this day and age would recommend hanging and subsequently dissecting the body as appropriate punishment. Then again, we’re more civilized now. That’s one less strike against humanity.
In 1879, a London maid murdered her mistress and put the body in boiling water. After stuffing the boiled corpse into a trunk, she tossed it in the river. She sold the fat as drippings.
The crazed housekeeper was caught after she moved into her mistress’s home and attempted to take over her life.
The past is filled with gruesome tales and horrific crimes. Besides Jack the Ripper and Lizzy Borden, there were the notorious Gangs of New York and Wild West Crimes committed by Billy the Kid and The James and Younger Gangs. Not to mention the atrocities committed in Kansas in the years leading up to the Civil War.
War is hell and there have been wars since there has been man. But now people are committing crimes against strangers and their own children without remorse. Is this the end?
Matthew 24:6- “And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.”
The end is not yet. Maybe there’s still hope for humanity. I like to think so. I’d like to think there’s still beauty and goodness in the world. I firmly believe there is. I take joy in a baby’s cry and a breath-taking sunset. I wish the media felt the way I do.
I’d love to see more positive, heartwarming stories in the news. I think humanity needs affirmation that all is not lost—that there is still goodness in the world.
If violence begets violence, then why can’t goodness beget goodness? Why must the media concentrate on news of the worst tragedies man can inflict?
Wouldn’t it be nice if Good news was on the front page and every news cast ended with something uplifting or positive?
Would that make a difference? Would it give us hope?
My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, families, police, and hospital workers dealing with the tragedy that occurred in Colorado last night. May they find peace, comfort, and the faith to hold on.