The Torah addresses both love and violence. We come to understand that these forces are part of our lives at a very early age. However, every time we hear about a violent act against people or property, we are saddened, shocked and thankful that we were not victimized. We rejoice in the union of two people in a loving relationship and do our best to facilitate our children growing up surrounded by love, experiencing the joys that love brings.
This caused me to stop and wonder—why then, do so many of us allow our children to watch violence on TV or in the movies, to play very violent video games, but not to see any type of loving or sexual relationship through the same media? I don’t believe that we mean to encourage violence over love yet our behavior might suggest otherwise. We’ll discuss the bad things going on all over the world but not speak about the cohabitation of two unmarried close friends, be honest about weapons in inappropriate settings but not about physical expressions of love, often hiding behind “they’re too young for that.”
Perhaps it’s time for us to rethink this behavior? Common sense suggests that it doesn’t have the consequences we’re aiming for. In a bizarre way we are acknowledging that violence is acceptable and sex is not. Could this be a contributing factor to the increase in violent behavior amongst teens and young adults? Maybe it’s time to rethink our role-modeling behavior and its consequences on future generations. _
Sue Penn is the mother of three, Director of Congregational Learning at University Synagogue, president of Jewish Reconstructionist Educators of North America and a member of the Jewish Educators Assembly.