The Poison Infecting All Youth: Thoughts On Why Murder and Death is Humorous
The muzzle of a Luger P08 pistol was pressed against the back of a defiant Jewish woman’s head. She had refused to succumb to the terror and fear which had seized those around her. Upon the barking and abrasive order of his superior officer, the young SS soldier pulled the trigger. She was but one victim of the Nazis in the early years of WWII leading to the mass extermination of Jews. This eradication is retold in gorish detail by Steven Spielberg in his famous film Schindler’s List.
While graphic, I showed this film to my sophomore students. The objective, of course, was to show the egregious crimes committed against the Jews. In an age where image and video are kings, words and descriptions do little for minds of many youth. Any image conjured up—even piles of dead, starving, and tortured people—is quickly brushed aside to make room for video games and television. Thus such films serve as a common medium and language for this generation.
As death squads first emerged in the film, clearing out the ghettos, killing women and children, and forcing Jews into labor camps, one particularly emotional scene emerged from the countless images of death. A Jewish woman was shot—her body contorted and fell to the ground, face-first into the snow and mud. The room was piercing silent as the atrocities took place—all except two young boys who could not control their laughter. With glee and entertainment, they made “ooooohhhh’s” and “ahhhh’s” as people were beat, herded into labor camps, and shot like game animals. The blight and suffering of these people was not something to be identified with, but rather, served as a source of entertainment.
Only days before, some students sat talking about a recent video game in which they shot police officers, visited strip clubs, and beat-up prostitutes to steal their money. While done for fun and swearing they would never do such a thing in “real life”, it is curious that they were entertained and found pleasure in such activities—regardless of the fact that it is an artificial reality.
What had hardened these young men’s hearts into lumps of cold, dark clods? Was it video games of violence, films, violent music? Some people point to such “corruptions” as the culprit. However, this conclusion assumes that goodness is the core of humanity and are slowly corrupted by society.
Christ teaches a different ethic.
We are corrupt and evil to the core. Such hatred and evil bubbles up to the surface, mingling with the “good” actions and behaviors engrained in us from our society. But in the state of nature, tooth and claw, evil and suffering, prevail.
The human heart is evil.
Left apart from the transformation of Christ, the human heart is capable of great evils—such things become laughable and enjoyable. These entertainments and pleasures are neither unique nor surprising.
All need the grace of Christ, not condemnation as unforgivable sinners. There is nothing so egregious that it blocks the love and forgiveness of Christ Jesus. We are all sick and dying before Christ brought, brings, and will complete our healing.
A sick man needs healing, not the continual browbeating of a fact of which he is already aware. His awareness of disease will not cure him. The sick need only Christ—without him, how can we expect anything other than puss, vomit, and the putrid infection of the soul.
“We must learn to regard people less in light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they suffer”
— Dietrich Bonhoeffer
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