Saturday, April 09, 2005

War Games

When I come home from my paper route at between 5:00 AM and 6:30 AM, there are no meaningful TV programs on to watch while I have my breakfast. Every other channel has infomercials on, but the History Channel has something worth watching. I guess that’s why I started watching the History Channel more than anything else.

They’ve had a series on about The Last Days of WW II. The war ended this week, 60 years ago. The atrocities were horrible. When they freed the concentration camps, there were naked bodies stacked up like cords of firewood. The living prisoners were little more than skeletons covered with parchment. Some were so weak they could do nothing more than blink. They made lampshades from human skin. When the President Roosevelt toured the camps, he wept. General Patton was livid with anger and grief. The Third Reich had become an edifice for evil, the likes of which the world had never seen before. I wept to hear the story. Let this story always be remembered, and may there never be such experiences ever again.

That’s WW II. Some said that the American Civil War was worse. 600,000 people killed in the Civil war. It was the bloodiest war in American history. Their weapons weren’t efficient enough to kill outright. People would get bullets lodged in their bones, and suffer gangrene. They’d have to have their arms or legs amputated. And the doctors didn’t have anesthesia. Can you imagine someone slowly sawing off an arm or a leg? If they didn’t die from the battle wounds, they would die of shock or disease later on.

And yet, the computer game makers are selling games that depict these war experiences. Kids play war games purely for entertainment. Adults are entertained by playing war with each other, or with the computer. I could give a link or two, but just do an Internet search on “computer games,” and see how many of them are based on some kind of war, either historic or futuristic.

Maybe you’ve never been to war, or weren’t alive yet in WW II or the Civil War. Maybe you don’t watch the History Channel. Or maybe you can’t help but to play the games, ‘cause they’re so addicting. You don’t know what else to do; you’re frustrated or bored with your life.

Consider this. Take your most painful, most traumatic experience in life. Have you lost your job? Tried and tried and tried, and can’t get a new job? Your lover left you? Your pet died? A family member died? Had to have an abortion? Now take that experience, and compress it down into a one-hour episode, and make a carnival ride out of it. Let somebody else make money by other people being entertained by your experience of having to wonder if your husband or wife was still alive in the 9/11 rubble. Let someone sell tickets to a recreation of helplessly watching someone die, trapped inside a burning vehicle. “Oh, I’m going bankrupt! I don’t know how I’ll make a living! Wheeeee! This is so fun!” “My career is ruined! Now I have to make a living delivering newspapers! Woohoo!” "I know, let's do the divorce thing again! That was a blast! Yeah!"

This is why I don’t play computer games, other than cards anymore. It’s just not right to be entertained by other people’s misery. It doesn’t matter if the war is fictional or futuristic. War is Hell. It’s not supposed to be entertaining.

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