[Editor’s note–the following article was written a week before the recent tragic events in Newtown, Connecticut and was originally published in December 2012 right after the tragedy with a prayer for those impacted by the violence. The relevance of the article continues….

This question was highlighted for me recently when I went to see the film Lincoln. The movie itself was wonderful. Yet the previews of coming attractions showed one film after another filled with human carnage. Why is this?

I’ll admit that I enjoy a good film with a bit of violent action in it. I love James Bond. I’m no prude, I can enjoy some mindless diversion of a film. Yet as I get older I prefer more intellectually stimulating entertainment. Is it just me or does most of our entertainment revolve around one human being violent towards another?

Sometimes I feel like we are the proverbial frogs in a pot of water where the temperatures been slowly turned up – so slowly we don’t even notice that we are boiling. We are inundated with so much violence – and have been for so long now – that it has just become part of our natural landscape.

It’s not just movies and TV – the top video games this year included such titles as Call of Duty: Black Ops II, Halo 4 and Assassin’s Creed – games where the goal is to kill other people. New sports have popped up with extreme fighting as their main purpose.

I turn as much of this stuff off as I can. Yet, sometimes I feel that I am out of the mainstream. After all, would our entertainment industry continue to offer us so much violence if we stopped buying it? Does the fact that there is so much of it mean that a large part of our culture spending a lot of money on it? Or is there some grand conspiracy to acclimate us to violence? I don’t know.

But I do know this – in our evolutionary past there was an advantage gained through violence. Those who could fight better survived to reproduce more. Many still believe that they need to fight for power over others. In their minds, it’s still a dog eat dog world. Humans are still embedded with an animalistic need for survival that includes an attraction to winning through violence.

However, I also know this – our evolutionary path is leading us out of our animalistic past and towards a spiritual future. We are at an interesting juncture where part of us is still attracted to the skills and abilities that made us successful as animals. Violence still speaks to that part of us. Yet, there is another part of us attracted to a higher vision of what we can be as a species. There is an aspect of us that is called to self-actualization and self transcendence – that recognizes we are more than just animals placed here to survive, that we are spiritual beings sent here to thrive.

Our growing spiritual awareness leads us into realizing that we are all connected at some level. We are all one. We are all on the same journey. That realization brings about a desire to support and serve one another. That wisdom points me towards creating a world where we both can thrive.

The violence Hollywood feeds us taps into our animalistic past. Can we transcend it and create an environment where we care for one another? Can we change the channel, turn off the killing and turn away from the violence? Can we move from our animal past to our spiritual future? It’s time to notice we are in the boiling pot and we need to jump out!

Mark Gilbert

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Check out all of Mark Gilbert’s books—available at Amazon. Click here to visit his Author Page. This includes his recent one Our Spiritual Rights and Responsibilities. In this book, he offers what he suggests are the 5 basic rights we all possess by virtue of our being these spiritual beings on planet Earth — and our 2 responsibilities we all hold in relation to one another! Check it out!