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The Poisoning of Our Minds

By Frank Sonnenberg
I watch the killing that’s taking place around the world and ask myself why?
How can someone be so intolerant that they can kill another person over their beliefs? How can someone be so angry that they’re willing to take the life of an innocent child to advance a cause? How can someone be so confused that they refuse to honor and value a life?
There’s no simple answer to the horrific crisis that we face, but I’m convinced that a contributing factor is the poisoning of our minds.
We are bombarded with hatred, intolerance, and violence every day. The entertainment industry incorporates hate, intolerance, and violence into movies, music, comedy routines, and video games in order to increase sales. The news media hypes violence to boost television ratings. Politicians appeal to our dark side to win votes. These acts are desensitizing our personal values, polluting our minds, and corroding our culture.
We prohibit smoking on the silver screen and outlaw cigarette advertising on television because we know that those practices reduce consumption. Why, then, do we permit hatred and violence to masquerade as entertainment? And why do our leaders continue to foster intolerance in our society?
While violent and hateful stimulation do not affect everyone, repetitive, negative stimulation may confuse an already deranged mind and cause that mind to snap — just as steel may break if bombarded continually at its weakest spot.
The time has come to recognize that just as toxic waste can pollute our rivers, the constant negative stimulants that we are exposed to are contaminating our culture. Reducing violence in our society requires us to react with both crisis prevention and crisis response. Leaders, businesses, and role models have a critical role to play in this effort — they can choose to use their celebrity and influence to provoke the good or the bad in people. As Barbara Mikulski, the U.S. senator for Maryland, once said, “Each one of us can make a difference. Together we can make change.”