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I have feelings about violence in media, and they have changed dramatically since I was a kid. Back then the only arguments I heard about it were from right-wing evangelicals, who opposed everything I believed in.

But I've come to understand media as part of what we consume, and see how it can water seeds in us. Fictional violence for entertainment stopped interesting me, and now I actively avoid it. There is more than enough real to attend to.

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#torture 

@continuation I noticed in the 2000s, coincident with the American invasion of Iraq and use of torture, that American television and movies increased the use of torture scenes. And, specifically, torture scenes where the "good" guys gather critical information via torture from the "bad" guys. In recent years, there have been more generalized torture scenes - showing torture for the sake of depicting pain.

#torture 

@Gtmlosangeles Yes! This is a fascinating interview with Thich Nhat Hanh about torture and how 9/11 changed the US, and how war and torture requires giving up part of our humanity, it's the first thing I thought of when you said this:

beliefnet.com/faiths/buddhism/

#torture 

@continuation the desperate cruelty of a dying empire. That Abu Ghraib came to public attention in April of 2004 and then voters reelected Bush later that same year forever severed my sense of connection to the nation I inhabit.

#torture 

@continuation I don't even think that is right "desperate cruelty of a dying empire". This nation was cruel for the entire history of its existence. I didn't really understand that so well back in 2004, but I should know better now. The cruelty of an empire.

#torture 

@Gtmlosangeles Absolutely - everything you've said really resonates. I knew the history but didn't appreciate how deeply it was and still is shaping everything.

#torture 

@continuation I am often aware of a deep malaise or dis-ease. At other times, I feel grief and have tears pushing from burning eyes for no apparent reason. The second is happening to me now, which perhaps explains the first.

"As a torturer, you are the first to be a victim because you lose all your humanity. You do harm to yourself in the act of harming another."

@continuation This is something I’ve been wondering about… Practitioners aren’t supposed to consume stuff that waters unhelpful seeds, right? But at the same time… Many of the greatest works of art (painting, novels, film, and more) feature violence or other aspects of our darker side. So part of me feels like never consuming that stuff is like denying our full humanity or something. Somehow inauthentic?

@ossicones

Rather than thinking about it in terms of a blanket prohibition on something, a better way is to consider every situation based on the context, and think about the range of things we consume in our lives. The aim isn't to ignore things in the world at all, quite the opposite.
(cont.)

@ossicones

But often we are so caught up in delusions that we can't see clearly without first working on understanding our mind, gaining some stability, some spaciousness, comfort and refuge in ourselves, and focusing on watering the good seeds.

The aspiration is insight, seeing reality as it is, all of it. But sometimes the first step is to stop, find quiet.
(cont.)

@ossicones

The same approach is taught about our response to crisis. We want to act right away, but if we don't pause and see the situation clearly our action might cause more harm even though we intend to help. So stopping is the first step. Then re-engaging intentionally, thoughtfully, based on seeing clearly, rather than reaction, or impulse.
(cont.)

@ossicones

One example of this is Thich Nhat Hanh's writing about how they practiced in Vietnam while bombs were dropping all around them. To be able to continue practicing right in the middle of a war, and to be helping people in that context without causing more harm is very hard. He writes about how they couldn't have done it without practicing, without mindfulness.

@continuation Thank you for your replies. Maybe I was understanding it in too much of a black and white, zero sum sort of way. Thou shalt never… sort of thing. I’ll try to keep this in mind as I learn more (currently reading The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching by TNH). Thank you for your insight.

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