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1 January 2011 – New Year’s Day

Posted by DMC on 1 January 2011 in Diary |

The beginning of the New Year. Traditionally a time when people see it as an opportunity for a new beginning, when they make New Year resolutions which they rarely manage to keep -to go on a diet; to stop smoking; to be nicer to someone or other, etc

I wonder what lies ahead this year? Not only for me and my family but the UK as a whole.

On the personal I note that inexorably my arms and legs perceptibly weaken. I noticed it in so many small things that I am less able to do and seriously wonder how much longer I will be able to shuffle about my walking frame before being permanently confined to a wheelchair. I also notice that my breathing is becoming more difficult even during the day I get more easily breathless.

On the nation front, undoubtedly, we are in for a tough year to try to get our finances in order. All of us will have to take part of the financial strain and that is the way it should be. There are always strong cases to be made for exempting one class or body of people or another but the fairest thing is to spread the load. I have every confidence that given a fair wind we will get through this difficult year and into recovery in 2012.

I must confess that on the whole I am pessimistic about one aspect of the world in which we live today there are the morals and ethics. Compare this with 40’s, 50’s and even the early 60’s, when there was still, to my mind, a degree of innocence in the young, much of which has now been lost through the medium of television showing the most ghastly programmes with people doing the most horrendous things to each other. Sex and sex education has being downgraded to no more than just another lesson in schools which has been taught to younger and younger pupils many of whom in my day would never even have known, or being particularly interested, about getting involved. It is a great sadness that this age of innocence has passed.

Although I am the first to recognise that we cannot go back in time I rate  television as one of the inventions I would completely wipe off the face of the earth if were God. (Hypocritically , in my case as I certainly derive a great deal of pleasure from it). Also the medium of television can be a great comfort,  particularly for the sick and the elderly, but balance that against the damage done to the young from watching totally inappropriate programmes. We used to have what was known as the British Board of Censors (Now called the British Board of Film Classification. Sadly I believe that’s exactly what it does just classifies films however appalling or explicit they might be in the hope that by giving such films discrete classification adults will have sufficient control over the young to prevent them from viewing inappropriate material, which as we all know is complete nonsense).

Looking at the guiding principles for this body, you see that they include:

  • .that adults should, as far as possible, be free to choose what they see, provided it remains within the law and is not potentially harmful

This begs the question of what is’ potentially harmful

When applying these general guidelines one of the three main qualifications is:

‘Whether the material, either on its own, or in combination with other content of a similar  nature, may cause any harm at their category concerned. This includes not just any harm that may result from the behaviour of potential viewers, but also any  ‘moral harm’ that may be caused by, for example, desensitising a potential viewer to the effects of violence, degrading a potential viewers sense of empathy, encouraging the humanising view of others, suppressing pro-social attitudes, encouraging anti-social attitudes, reinforcing unhealthy fantasies, or eroding a sense of moral responsibility. Especially with regard to children, harm may also include retarding social and moral development, distorting  sense of right and wrong, and limiting their capacity for compassion..

All I can say is that from my own observations of what is shown on television this Board have a different understanding of language to me. Particularly, as it appears from the bbfc website that they also apply their guidelines and general principles to DVDs and video games

As I said at the beginning it begs the question as to what they consider is ‘ potentially harmful’.(Bring back Mary Whitehouse). if people want to support an organisation that campaigns for family values in the media then they should get in touch with Mediawatch UK. I make no apology if I sound out of tune with  modern times but I seriously believe that exposure to the sorts of programmes, DVDs and video games that are now widely available are not only ‘ potentially harmful’ but are doing actual irreparable harm to the next generation.

This can be clearly seen in the rapid advances being made in electronic games which even the most intelligent families seem to have to provide for children because of peer pressure. So many of these games show extreme violence so that the young again, become completely in innured in death, blood and guts. I wonder how much this has been partially responsible for me substantial increase in loutish behaviour and even worse knife and gun crime amongst the very young. If you are interested in looking at the research then check out the Byron Review 2008: Safer Children in a Digital World

What about moral teaching? I listened to the Archbishop of Canterbury’s (Primate of the Anglican Church in Great Britain) Presidential Address to the 2010 Synod. Much of what he spoke about was Christianity’s role in today’s society. However, to my mind he could well have spent  little time on the question of today’s ethics and morality He did touch on what he called the Big Society and the importance of ‘ looking to an ideal when men and women were intent on enhancing each other’s lives by building up their freedom to shape their communal life with fairness and generosity. People for whom responsibility is not a grim or oppressive word but a joyful acknowledgement of what we owe each other’. This may have obliquely referred to the sort of problems about which I am concerned but, sadly, this was not made explicitly plain. His message seemed to me to be  more to do with living in peace with each other, and appreciating our differences of  belief.-the ecumenical message’ for the benefit of what he calls the Big Society I do believe he could well have touched on the question of today’s morality, the importance of family life, the importance of parents in passing the right moral and ethical standards on their children and our approach on such matters. But maybe this was not the right forum. Old-fashioned and unpopular in today’s Sodom and Gomorrah environment or what some choose to call contemporary culture.

I certainly do not wish to commence this New Year on a negative note. I have been dubbed’ an extreme optimist’ and that, is indeed, what I like to think I am. I have the utmost faith in the next generation to resolve some of the appalling legacy on moral and ethical issues with which we have left them.

For my part I feel deeply ashamed and impotent by my lack of influence but I’m heartened by the knowledge that there are many young people, albeit in a small minority, who are on the right path and we can only hope that they manage, over a sustained period of time, to bring back some sense of innocence and joy to young people which is being destroyed by modern technology

A very happy and healthy New Year to all my readers coupled with the injunction to do what you can to influence the lives of young people and protect them against the horrors of violence and sexual perversion sharing on television and used in the video games.

4 Comments

  • Barbara says:

    I second that.

  • DMC says:

    I’m glad someone agrees with me. Happy New Year Barbara

    MarkPuz

  • Barbara says:

    Oh, dear Mark,
    I most certainly do agree with you—and for the reasons you articulate so well. I have not owned a television for more than 10 years.
    However… sinful hypocrite that I am… I do watch NASCAR (do you know what that is?) with my elderly neighbor–age 80– who is quite keen on it. I suppose there is no sense in being a purist or an elitist or a prig (although those are my tendencies I suspect…alas) so I have now learned a thing or two about “car racing!”
    Who would have thought???
    Not me, most certainly.

    In all serious, though, I do find television—and the film industry, too–to be amoral, irresponsible and deleterious to the fabric of society.
    Of course I sound a Dismal Desmond—but there it is. I sometimes wonder what happened to the principle of the “boycott.”
    Ah well, I suppose I am getting old.

    My very best wishes, to you.
    What joy and clear thinking, you bring to all of us.
    b

  • DMC says:

    Dear Barbara

    First of all let me wish you a very happy and fulfilled New Year. I do hope it’s a really good one for you.

    Thank you so much for taking the trouble to comment on my entry concerning the effect of violence and explicit sex on the young, you will see that, in tomorrow’s entry, I have mentioned the lack of responses generally on some of the more controversial subjects I have dealt with over the last month or so. I would like to know if you found them of interest or, as I have suggested, perhaps relevant to this blog.

    I know what you mean about boycotting and, of course, people like us would certainly do so but unfortunately there are a number of irresponsible adults and parents who would not ensure that their young were protected from such salacious material

    best wishes

    Mark

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