We live in a world where children are increasingly being taught cheating, deception, and violence as a result of them playing games and using applications on tablets and smartphones. In this atmosphere of fear and distrust, how is a parent to pass on a tender heart to their children? How can I teach my children to be compassionate and caring? Such is the dilemma I faced.
Sometime during summer, on a lazy afternoon, I entered the living room and found my son watching the barbaric sport of cage fighting. A heartless, soulless sport where inflicting pain appears to be the only purpose! There were two men in a cage and as the crowd raged, sounds of bones crushing slapped against my ears as the repulsive sight of flesh cracking and blood splattering filled my vision. Concerned and puzzled, yet not wanting to intervene, I inquired what was going on. To which he promptly responded, “I am watching an exciting game!” Patience, which dwindles around this time of summer, was called upon in high volumes as I proceeded to fetch a cup of tea and wait for the ‘exciting game’ to be over. As I sat there waiting, I reflected upon the way of the world. I reflected upon advertisements for games like ‘Assasin’s Creed’ and ‘King of Thieves’ on extremely popular iPad’s and XBox’s as well as other systems, teaching us to kill, plunder and cheat. Teaching tender young minds that it is okay to deceive, and acceptable to take away the life of another human. I reflected upon the arguments from pundits who assure us that video games do not alter our thinking, and I reflected upon the words of the Holy Books that teach us to do good and not to harm any creation of God.
With the game over, I now wandered into the room and initiated the discussion by inquiring. “How was the game?” “Exciting,” came the reply. I took a deep breath and plunged into the next stage. “What did you find exciting?” He smiled, as an elder looks upon a young child, knowing where the conversation was heading. “I was angry. Watching the fight relaxed me.” Before I could speak, he volunteered “I know it’s wrong to hit people and hurt them. But this seemed harmless.” Pleased with the response, yet uncertain, I wanted to dig deeper. We spoke about what exciting is and why it is important. It is only human to seek thrills, but respect for others should always be our prime objective. And we spoke about compassion. The realm of humane treatment is not a new discussion in our home. Then, we went to the beach and watched pebbles bounce off the calm waters of the north shore of our island.
As the heat of summer gives way to the coolness of Autumn, I am happy to say that such an incident has not occurred again. Perhaps there are other parents who need to hold hands and collect pebbles with their teenagers. It is always good to see a promising young man blossom into a mindful, compassionate being.
As I feel the cool breeze caress over the ocean waters and refresh my spirit, I am reminded of a promise from a book I read every day:
“The reward of goodness is nothing but goodness.” (Al Quran 55:61)