- Sinister cults
- Intervention in Kosovo
- Children in war
- Collective amnesia
- Catching them young
- Alex Comfort
NO AGE is a good age at which to be taught that force and ultimately killing is an acceptable means of solving conflicts or, as is more often the case, getting one's way.
The picture on the left is from the front page of a local paper illustrating the joys of a May Day fair. It's easy to appear a little obsessive when drawing attention to images such as this; my excuse is that I first saw it minutes after the delivery of the PPU's new book, Saying no to violence - children and peace, which had been preoccupying me for some months and which examines ways in which we come to accept violence as a way of dealing with problems. (Yes, this is an undisguised editorial plug and you should turn to the back page immediately you have finished reading this page)
But the significant point about pictures such as this and the abundance of other violence accepting and condoning images is that by their ubiquity they have become 'invisible' messengers. This is their real and insidious power; through them we assimilate our societys political ideology and cultural values and, in the full belief that we are making independent judgements, we reproduce these values and so onto the next generation.
Page three of the same paper was packed with the usual pictures of laughing children and adults having fun at the fair, pictures which were far more indicative of the day than Toby the Action Man. It's unlikely that the editor chose that picture and placed in on the front page at the instigation of the Territorial Army. Placing that picture in that space probably felt to be the right choice - supporting our boys, its what readers like to see etc.. Can such a picture be viewed differently? Yes. We could see a sweet gentle looking lad just out of school and already in the clutches of a violent gun owning cult with arms caches and guarded compounds all over the country. Young cult members are used to evangelising at events such as this where they are more approachable to the target audience - other young people.
Seen here in the cults distinctive and sinister costume private Grant is employing the well tried technique of 'association'. By temporarily sharing costumes and other symbolic items and laying on of hands values are exchanged and confirmed. The cults long term strategy can discerned from the effort they make to ingratiate themselves with children too young for the binding initiation.
A lot of hot air is periodically expelled about various cults but few are as bizarre and truly dangerous as those deeply embedded in our every day life.
All young children can make a credible stab at describing what war is (even if they have never experienced it) but describing what peace is they, like most of us, find it more difficult. There is a lot of deprogramming to do. Now get out your chequebook and go to the back page.