ANOTHER CONDITION that Jesus indicated would be prevalent immediately prior to His return would be pervasive violence: “As the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:37).
How were things in “the days of Noah?” The book of Genesis tells us “the earth was corrupt before God, and was filled with violence” (Genesis 6:11). We are all painfully aware that today’s headlines are full of tragic stories of violence.
Political violence is the term used to describe the violence perpetrated by governments on their own or conquered people, or violence committed by political and ideological groups. In the 20th century it is estimated that around 110 million people died as a result of wars. However, this pales in comparison to the 170 million estimated to have been killed in political violence during the same period [in fact, just from 1900–1987].43 170 million deaths translates to around 4,600 people (close to twice the amount killed at the World Trade Center towers during the 9/11 attack.44) being killed every day for 100 years.
Aside from political violence, violence in all its forms surrounds us. One country that has statistics readily available on this is the United States. In the U.S., more people died from gun-related killings in the 19 years spanning 1979–1997 (651,697) than U.S. servicemen and women that died in combat in war from the Revolutionary War (1775–1783) through to the end of the 20th century (650,858).45
Violence is a universal scourge that tears at the fabric of communities and threatens the life, health and happiness of us all. Each year, more than 1.6 million people worldwide lose their lives to violence. For everyone who dies as a result of violence, many more are injured and suffer from a range of physical, sexual, reproductive and mental health problems. Violence is among the leading causes of death for people aged 15–44 years worldwide, accounting for about 14% of deaths among males and 7% of deaths among females.46
While juvenile violent crime is down from the historic highs of the early to mid-1990s, we are all still aware of the violent environment that many of the youth of the world live in. School shootings at places like Jokela, Finland; Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia; Dawson College, Montreal, Canada; Columbine High in Littleton, Colorado; West Paducah, Kentucky; Jonesboro, Arkansas; Springfield, Oregon; and Erfurt, Germany, are still vivid memories to many.
Why this unprecedented violence among today’s youth? Behavioral scientists have concluded that one of the main culprits is so-called entertainment, particularly the images brought into everyone’s home, courtesy of television, movies, and the computer gaming industry. In times past, you had to be on the scene where the violence was perpetrated in order to personally witness it. Not now! By the time the average US schoolchild leaves elementary school, he or she will have witnessed more than 8000 murders and 100,000 other acts of violence on television. If the child also has access to violent computer games or films, or cable TV, these figures will be far, far higher.47
The Virginia Tech, Montreal, Erfurt, and Columbine killers were avid fans of violent computer games. “Software for a massacre,” ran the headline in the German newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on the Erfurt massacre. “The killer was trained by a computer game.” Though media violence is not the only, or even necessarily prime, motivator in the school killings, nevertheless their high level of exposure to violence desensitizes children and makes them comfortable with such behavior.
The link between violence on film and violence in our streets and homes is strong. United Press International reports on a survey conducted by the 40,000-member Professional Association of Teachers in Britain, which concluded that:
“The impact of violent material is far more widespread than was previously thought,” said Jackie Miller, the association’s deputy secretary general. The survey found that 77 percent of secondary school teachers thought children were being “desensitized to violence,” and choosing to glorify and mimic violent activity in the playground.48
Dr. Leonard D. Efron, Professor of Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago, studied the habits of more than 400 viewers for 22 years. He observes: “There can no longer be any doubt that heavy exposure to televised violence is one of the causes of aggressive behavior, crime, and violence in society.” Arnold Kahn of the American Psychological Association adds, “The debate over the effects of violence on television is like the debate over cigarette smoking and cancer.”49
Gayle Hanson, in the article “The Violent World of Videogames,” had the following to say:
Among those whose voices have risen to damn the computer-game industry for recklessness is Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, a former professor of psychology at the U.S. Military Academy, who taught a course that analyzed the psychology of killing. He says of some of the games, “They are murder simulators which over time teach a person how to look another person in the eyes and snuff their life out.”
To understand the virus of violence that seems epidemic to many, Grossman points to statistics showing an increase in assault in many countries. According to statistics provided by INTERPOL, from 1977 to 1993, the assault rate in Australia and New Zealand increased by almost 400 percent. The assault rate tripled in Sweden and doubled in Belgium, Denmark, England, France, Hungary, Holland, and Scotland. In the United States the rate of aggravated assault rose from about 60 per 100,000 in 1957 to more than 440 per 100,000 by the middle of [the ’90s, a 700% increase].
“Though we should never downplay child abuse, poverty or racism,” Grossman says, “there is only one new variable present in each of these countries, bearing the exact same fruit: media violence presented as entertainment for children.”50
In his book, High Tech / High Touch: Technology and Our Search for Meaning, John Naisbitt, the acclaimed social forecaster and author of the #1 New York Times bestseller Megatrends 2000, plaintively states the following:
Many of the most popular games are relentlessly violent, and the same video games that are entertaining our children are being used to train our military. Living in the Technologically Intoxicated Zone, we deny that the culture of violence delivered through our television, film, Internet, and video game screens is real. Yet we are perplexed by the violence committed by our young, as epitomized by the Littleton school massacre in Colorado. If we begin to understand that what is on our screens is real, our tolerance for media violence will change forever. And we will no longer send our children into an electronic war zone daily and expect them to remain unaffected and unscarred.51
- R. J. Rummel, Death by Government, (New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers, 1994.)
- “Trade center death toll revised down by 22,” CNN, 7 Sep 2002.
- The 1994 World Almanac’s table for casualties in principal wars of the U.S. The source is the Department of Defense and the United States Statistical Abstract. The National Center for Health Statistics has an annual count for gun deaths for the years 1979–1997.
- E.G. Krug et al., “World report on violence and health,” (Geneva: World Health Organization, 2002.)
- “Editorial: In denial about on-screen violence,” New Scientist, 21 April 2007.
- Paul Gould. “UK Teachers Say Videos and Violence Linked,” UPI, 18 Apr 1994.
- Don Feder, A Jewish Conservative Looks at Pagan America, (Lafayette, LA.: Huntington House Publishers, 1993.)
- Gayle M.B. Hanson, “The Violent World of Video Games.” Insight on the News, 28 Jun 1999.
- John Naisbitt, Nana Naisbitt, and Douglas Philips, High Tech/High Touch: Technology and Our Search for Meaning (London, U.K.: Nicholas Brearly, 2001.)
- The Future Foretold
- A World at War
- “Mommy, I’m Hungry!”
- A Plagued Planet
- The Big Shake-up
- Our Violent World
- The “Me” Generation
- The Good News Goes Global
- Globetrotters and Jetsetters
- Information Overload
- The Pagan Revival
- The Beast That Is to Come
- The “Mark of the Beast”
- The Second Coming
- Faith to Face the Future