I was amazed to read a story in the paper yesterday of the blind grandfather who was tasered with 50,000 volts for carrying his white stick.
The officer then proceeded to use excessive force and continued to arrest and handcuff the man. The reason? Apparently there was a 'swordsman' on the loose and this was a case of mistaken identity.
The old man was blind but not as blind as the young gun 27 year old police officer. How did this happen in the UK?
I believe this story is a symptom of a far more pervasive and passively accepted cultural blindness. A blindness that has allowed media and advertising to parent a generation and suspend them in perpetual adolescence. There is no rite of passage for young men - action movies and violent computer games do not provide the teaching for how to handle anger, aggression and fear that is in every man. A father figure must provide that otherwise we end up with boys wearing police officers uniforms.
Through 24hr news there is a ready diet of grim stories, violence and suspicion which we can feed on like a never ending tasting menu. It isn't healthy and doesn't taste good and yet we seem to gobble up media fed junk food unquestioningly. Advertising promotes dissatisfaction with self - a kind of self-hatred. Its message is you will not be satisfied with what you look like, what you have or with being loved until you buy this product.
I've been experimenting with taking 'time out' from news and media as I am convinced that humanity is not designed to handle this amount of bad news. At best it leads to compassion fatigue and at worst we lose sight of humanity altogether. I have noticed that I am more at peace with myself and world around me when I limit my intake of news especially. I have also noticed that my sensitivity to pain and suffering increases. As a Christian I am called to identify with those in pain not anaesthetise and insulate myself.
Tasering a blind man carrying a white stick is not just a warning bell it is a full on cry for help.
I am not advocating the church returns to a position where rock music and films are demonised. However, so much of discipleship among young men and women is about being free from fear, 'do not fear' is the most common command in scripture and yet so much of what we watch and 'take in' promotes fear and suspicion in us. Are you aware of how many lies and fears are being 'sold' to you on a daily basis?
What this story reveals is not one victim but three. An old blind man, whose generation have not fathered the next and a young man who hasn't been taught what it is to be a man, and a society with too much information and not enough wisdom.