Tom and Jerry Inspire Terrorists

9091posterTom and Jerry cartoons and video games are behind a rising tide of violence in the Middle East according to a top Egyptian intelligence agency. At a conference entitled “The Media and the Culture of Violence” at Cairo University, Salan Abdel Sadeq said, “Tom and Jerry portrays violence in a funny manner, and gives the impression that, yes, I can hit him, and I can blow him up with explosives.”

Social media in the Middle East lit up with comments. One person asked, “So it’s not the Moslem Brotherhood after all.” Another complained her daughter loved Tom and Jerry.

But Sadeq did not attribute the outbreak of violence and extremist just to the cat and the mouse. He went further.

“Video games are spreading…it has become normal for a young man to sit for long hours playing video games, killing and spilling blood. He is happy and content with that,” he said.

He added, according to the website Egyptianstreets.com, that youths are “faced with social pressures that push them to resort to violence, which they consider normal and understandable.”

While my first reaction was to defend the 1940’s cat and mouse cartoon characters, the more I considered he had some validity. While I hesitate to call Tom or Jerry terrorists, I have to admit they have always introduced a goodly amount of biff, bang, boom in their encounters!

Violence

The NSW Education Department has an excellent website to help parents understand this very dilemma (www.schoolatoz.nsw.edu.au) They ask: “Does cartoon violence make kids more aggressive?” “At a glance research indicates that exposure to violence makes it seem more acceptable to kids. Today’s animation and games are so realistic it can be hard for kids to tell the difference between ‘pretend’ violence and live action, making some animation just as disturbing as the real thing,” they say. Along with Tom and Jerry they also mention ‘The Road Runner and other animated favorites.”

sleeping_beauty039s_castle_185965Appropriately (I thought) they mentioned Sleeping Beauty and the jealous witch. (I am amazed at the prominence of witches and demons in children’s books. Once we preached messages about this content today we seem to have shrugged our shoulders in surrender).

After a lengthy study the Australian Psychology Society said: “it is generally agreed that prolonged exposure to media violence is one of the many interacting factors which lead to children being more likely to display aggressive behaviour in the long term. It is also agreed that the social context is important in determining the effects of exposure to violent media; e.g., if an adult helps the child interpret and critique the viewed material, the negative effects are lessened. Later research on violent video games has largely supported these effects of violent media, showing that exposure to video game violence leads to increased aggression, an effect that has been demonstrated both as a short-term consequence and longer-term effect of excessive exposure.” (www.psychology.org.au)

Smoking?

A study authored by L.Rowell Huesman and Brad Bushman, both professors at the University of Michigan found: “Violence depicted on television, in films and video games raises the risk of aggressive behavior in adults and young viewers and poses a serious threat to public health, according to a new study.”

After 50 years of research and analysis of the impact of violence in the media, the professors declared “only smoking is a greater risk for public health than video games!”

The website gamepolitics.com responded by interviewing Huesman who said, “Please be aware that an implication of the body of research I reviewed is that the mass media and video games are very powerful teachers. Video games can teach wonderful things or they can teach bad things. It would be a shame if my review were used to indict all video games. There are many great games that teach kids very valuable things.”

The most important lessons children learn most often comes from parents. By stopping a violent cartoon, game or video and explaining why it is not appropriate is the best influence of all.

The Apostle Paul was a great witness to his followers. His behavior was so impeccable he was able to write to the church in Philippi saying: “Finally, brothers, whatever things are true, whatever things are honorable, whatever things are right, whatever things are pure, whatever things are pleasing, whatever things are commendable, if there is any excellence of character and if anything praiseworthy, think about these things. And the things which you have learned and received and heard about and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians Chapter 4, verses 8 and 9)

“Seen in me” he wrote. What an amazing witness? It is true however, children learn a great deal from watching their elders and observing what we allow into their lives. The Letter by Paul was great advice then and it remains the best advice for our children today.

 

 

 

 

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Widows and Orphans, The Key to Pure and Undefiled Religion?

imagesTension targeted the First-century church. On the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit was poured out specifically to bring power and anointing to the Bride of Christ, the Church, but the new entity was soon in conflict.

The first Jewish Christians worshipped Jesus but they lived according to the Law of Moses. These were called the Palestinian Jews. As converts from throughout the Roman Empire surfaced, they had no interest in Jewish culture, and were identified as Hellenized Jews having come from Greek influences. Neither group showed zeal for spreading the Gospel until Saul of Tarsus, the zealous Christian killer was converted on the Damascus Road. Now renamed Paul he passionately set out to preach the Lord with immediate resistance but with great results.

Under Nero, the Roman authorities specifically targeted the persecution of Christians. Most of Jesus disciples died violently. In those early, formative times James, a half brother of Jesus Christ was one of the leaders. His New Testament letter is among the earliest written.

Because he wrote to inspire and encourage the believers his theme is ‘faith.’ Because of the world in which they lived he wrote: ‘religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit widows and orphans in their affliction, and keep yourself unstained from this world.” (James chapter 1, verse 27) He would be thinking of the families who were left without a breadwinner, even the wives and children of the murdered disciples.

Widows and Orphans

He challenged the early church to live in the spirit of their faith by preferring others, just as Jesus had displayed. We have a massive widows and orphans situation on our hands today. Vast numbers of innocent women and in particular young girls have been abused and sadly murdered. It is the spirit of our faith that they not be mere statistics.

Recently on my Vision FM radio spot we talked about 250 girls murdered by ISIS terrorists. Their crime? They refused to be part of ‘sexual jihad’ and consequently were executed. Since 2014 hundreds, if not thousands, have been forced into sex slavery. The alternative is death.

Earlier this year British Conservative MP Fiona Bruce shared the testimony of a 16-year-old Yazidi girl. “She spoke of witnessing her friends being raped and hearing their screams,” the MP explained. The same teen, in her testimony, described a 9-year-old girl ‘raped by so many men, she died!’ Appalling. I believe “religion that is pure and undefiled,” is very concerned.

World Vision published the plight of Kema who is 8-years-old and terrified of marriage. “Girls like Kema suffer sexual and emotional abuse,” WV report. “Girls like Kema are forced to marry men three or four times their age.” Sponsorship for Kema and girls like her is outlined at my.worldvision.com.au

images-1Last year ISIS circulated a price list for sex slaves. Girls and boys aged 1 to 9 cost $165, adolescent girls are $124 and women over 40 are $41. According to the United Nations women captured as sex slaves by the ISIS group are sold at markets ‘for the price of a packet of cigarettes.”

 Plead the Case

Zainab Bangura, the UN envoy on sexual violence said women are stripped naked and shipped around like cattle. “This is how they attract young men as fighters,” she said.

The Bible describes rulers who are ‘rebels’, who do ‘not defend the cause of the fatherless.” The prophet Isaiah declared ‘the widow’s case does not come before them.” (Isaiah chapter 1, verse 23) But he has a cause of action for believers. “Take up the cause of the fatherless; plead the case of the widow.” (Isaiah chapter 1, verse 17)

There has been considerable debate over the New Testament letter by James. His focus is ‘faith.’ He believed vociferously in prayer and accordingly was said to have knees like a camel from kneeling. His letter described the spirit of religion. In that spirit we must be concerned with the persecution and shaming of others. We can so easily be diverted from the priorities set by the Lord for his Kingdom. It was James who warned us to be ‘doers of the message and not hearers only.’ (James chapter 1, verses 22)

 “Loyal Friend”

Followers of Jesus must be committed to the wellbeing of others, even like ‘a father to the fatherless.’ It is so easy to feel powerless in the face of the cruel, onslaught of evil but there are creative ways to enter the fray.

Recently the Good News Network told an inspiring story. When the distressing stories of sexual abuse were told 7,700 donors from around the world responded. Rafiki Mwema – meaning “Loyal Friend” – is a nonprofit home that educates, houses, and cares for young Kenyan girls who have been sexually abused.

An Aussie mum Sarah Rosberg set up a webpage to raise $75,000 to assist Kenyan girls who were victims of sexual abuse. Over the course of one month $200,000 was raised to provide a second facility. (Rafiki Mwema can be followed on Facebook or Instagram)

International headlines lean towards the negative aspects of every situation and there is no denying the seriousness of any given misdeed. But prayer is our most potent yet often forgotten weapon. Mother Theresa had a powerful insight. She said: “May God break my heart so completely that the whole world falls in.”

Maybe we should step back and see the Almighty power and significance of God. Oswald Chambers, the Scottish Baptist evangelist said it best: “We have to pray with our eyes on God, not on the difficulties.”

In Ephesians chapter 6 the Apostle Paul urges us to pray ‘on every occasion in the power of the Spirit.” Paul encouraged Christians to ‘watch’ and ‘persevere. Author John White wrote about the warfare aspects of prayer. He commented: “Hell’s legions are terrified of prayer. Satan trembles when he sees, the weakest saint upon his knees.” (The Fight by John White, Ivp)

James and his Camel Knees would be please to see that faith in action on behalf of those in such great need.

 

 

 

Arab Teacher Wins Global Award

Hanan Al HroubHanan Al-Hroub (pictured) is an Arab primary teacher who grew up in a refugee camp near Bethlehem, Israel. Violence was prevalent in and around her community. Recently she won the Varkey Foundation’s 2016 Global Teacher Prize collecting the million dollar award.

Her victory was announced in Dubai by Pope Francis (on video link) and applauded by Prince William, US vice-President Joe Biden, former President Bill Clinton and many others.

She was led into school-teaching after her own children were traumatised by a shooting incident they witnessed one afternoon as they returned home after school.

Inspirational

That experience led Hanan into school-teaching. She was motivated to help other children by providing a safe place for them and building trust with them. Today she teaches in the West Bank city of al-Bireh, near Ramallah. That area is mostly in the news for brutality and violence. In the midst of instability and uncertainty, Hanan is a peacemaker at least for her students.

“Her approach has led to a decline in violent behaviour in schools where this is usually a frequent occurrence; she has inspired her colleagues to review the way they teach, their classroom management strategies and the sanctions they use,” a statement from the Varkey Foundation said.

Deeply concerned for the children, she wrote a book “We Play and Learn.” In it she focussed on the importance of children playing and learning trust, respect, honesty and literacy.

8000 teachers were considered before the final announcement was made during a ceremony in Dubai. Her success was celebrated by a large crowd in Ramallah who gathered to watch the announcement on a large screen, provided for the event.

“I would like to congratulate the teacher Hanan al-Hroub for winning this prestigious prize due to the importance she gave to the role of play in a child’s education,’ the Pope said in his video statement.

An Example

Humbled by her success Hanan emphasised her “no to violence” philosophy. She hoped her success would be an example to teachers ‘around the world.’

Famously Plato said, “The direction in which education starts a man will determine his future life.” It is more than likely the contribution of wisdom, learning and character being made by Hanan al-Hroub will reap a rewarding harvest in the Middle East and hopefully, more specifically, in the community where she lives.

Finalists for the 2016 event came from Australia, Finland, India, Japan, Kenya, Pakistan, Britain and the United States.

Richard JohnsonOne of the ten finalists was Rostrata (Perth) primary science teacher Richard Johnson (pictured left). He must have narrowly missed first prize. He was recognised for his efforts in developing a dedicated primary school Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths lab at Rostrata.

The model has been copied by schools throughout Australia and has gained international interest too.

He is a proponent for studied progress in education. He called for progress to bring education systems into the 21st century.

Alexander the Great summed up the importance of teachers and the education they bring: “I am indebted to my father for living, but to my teacher for living well!”

Francis Bacon made that famous quote, ‘knowledge is power.’ But in the Bible, the Book of Proverbs is said to be a manual for wisdom it says: “Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.” (Proverbs chapter 1, verse 5)

Madonna, Taylor Swift and a Ferret Named Phil

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Australian author William Reiner wrote and published ‘A Ferret Named Phil.’ The delightful story features Phil, the Ferret who deals with bullying without resorting to violence.

“Bullying is something that affects everybody at some stage of their life, regardless, if you’re big or small. From cyber-bullying to schoolyard bullying and all the way to workplace bullying,” Reimer , a 21 year old, wrote last year.

‘A Ferret Named Phil’ is fast becoming a national favourite with parents, school teachers and children (of all ages) You can see the public reaction on the Facebook page and at libertyroad.com.au.

The Hairy Monster?

UnknownThe book had instant appeal because bullying is so prevalent. Madonna was called ‘the hairy monster” at school. Taylor Swift said attacks on her by bullies inspired her early songs. Miley Cyrus was a victim. Tyra Banks was called ‘Lightbulb Head.’ In a TV interview Justin Timberlake recalled, “I grew up in Tennessee, and if you didn’t play football you were a sissy.’

I relate. As a child I suffered a fractured skull and my parents, on doctors orders, banned me from contact sports. So my peers played rugby. I did track. A group of the boys ganged up and nicknamed me ‘horsemeat’ which meant ‘good for nothing.’ Later I was blown away when I learned Jesus declared, ‘call no man Raca’ meaning ‘good for nothing.’! (Matthew chapter 5: verses 22) Obviously He taught ‘love your neighbour.’ Bullying certainly fails there. Bullying indeed is a curse not a blessing.

Steven Spielberg was called ‘a nerd’ at school. Sandra Bullock was heckled for her clothes. Classmates bullied Kate Winslet for her weight, they called her ‘Blubber.’ Bullying comes to most of us in one form or another.

The bullying is all about shaming and humiliating the victim. Some school-children are so persistently attacked, the parental option is to home school.

images-3Victims may not want to wake up and face school. They may self-harm or fake sickness to stay home.

Some may be targeted because of their appearance, their skin colour or ethnicity. Others are put down because they are academically superior or the opposite.

Who’s cool!

Bullies decide who’s in, who’s not, who is ‘cool’ and they will let their opinion be known in aggressive, put you in your place ways.

When dealing with this problem it is important to recognise the bully, whether boy or girl, is in as much need as the victim. Their aggressive behaviour may stem from personal anger or inferiority and the need to bring others down.

In fact, there are three groups involved where bullying occurs (1) the victim, (2) the bully and (3) the bystanders, who may be classmates, workmates, family members.

Christian children may face very specific attacks.

Wisdom calls for consultation with others. Go to people you respect and search for the best for your child and for the bully. What is the best outcome?

Bullying goes on beyond the classroom. Earlier this year as a result of action by the Transport Workers Union, those who bully South Australian Public Transport workers will face up to 25 years jail.

Jesus shared the bottom line. “A new command, I give you: Love one another, as I have loved you..” (John 13:34) Anger kills. Love brings life, even into the most trying situations.

Safe and Secure

When you buckle into an aircraft the cabin crew asks you to observe very clear safety instructions. Parents apply the oxygen masks before the children. It makes sense. The parent must be free to protect the child. The parent needs to be free to respond so the situation does not get out of hand.

So it is when dealing with bullying. Deal with your adult feelings first. Help your child feel safe and secure with you on their side. Give them confidence in you and your wisdom and maturity. Be the example and panic and anger will not help.

images-1Avril Lavigne (pictured) is a Canadian singer who launched her own Foundation to touch the lives of young people. “Our work has allowed Special Olympics athletes from across the world to compete at the World Games, brought music therapy to children with serious illnesses, provide Lyme disease treatment to kids who could not afford care, and helped youth with disabilities attend summer camp where they formed lifelong, supportive friendships.”

She is in touch with teens. She wrote the song “I’m with You.” She sings “I’m looking for a place, I’m searching for a face, Is anybody here I know, ‘Cause nothing’s going right, And everything’s a mess And no one likes to be alone” Isn’t anybody trying to find me? Won’t somebody take me home?”

Those lyrics reminds me how important it is to know there is someone you can count on. Jesus said, “I am with you, even to the end.” (Matthew 28:20) On her home page (avrillavigne.com) Lavigne wrote “Each action we take, large or small, is helping to change a life.’

Where bullying is concerned are we aware? Help is available. Talk to a doctor, a pastor or a school principal. It’s important to take bullying seriously and not brush it off. Visit a website like kidshealth.org for specialist advice.