“When I picked him up he put his arms around me. He was staring at me for a minute with big eyes, then he went limp.” That was Sasha Glenn’s gut-wrenching testimony about the death of Malakai, her 18-month-old son.
Malakai slipped into a coma on June 27 and died four days later from injuries sustained when he was forcefully and repeatedly swung against a wall by Derris Smith, his mother’s 17-year-old boyfriend. During her testimony, Sasha described how her son’s skull was bashed so hard against the wall that it cracked a wooden door and left shreds of drywall on his head.
Malakai’s crime: The innocent toddler was taking too long to learn how to use the toilet.
Our world is filled with grisly stories like this. Stories of helpless children tormented at the hands of emotionally unstable, lust-ridden, rage-filled, out-of-control parents and adults smear the pages of newspapers and websites daily. Unthinkable crimes—gruesome slayings, mass murders, child molestation, rape, and a host of other vicious evils—occur frequently in every Western society.
Brutality has been accepted as a black patch on the tapestry of human existence—and not just for soldiers on bloody battlefields, inner-city gangs or hospital emergency rooms. Today, brutality camps in the living rooms and on computer screens in nearly every household, toying with our children and courting the minds of our teens, all under the often unsuspecting eyes of parents. Though most of us may never experience such calamity, we are all subject to its influence.
Tear-jerking stories of unimaginable cruelty fill the news: babies killed by their mothers and buried in the backyard; children drowned in the bathtub; infants ripped from their mothers’ wombs; children exploited as sex slaves; adults tortured and shot by their own sons or daughters—the list of tragedies is endless. In fact, we have come to accept this sad state of affairs as normal, another ghastly reality of life. Millions have grown immune to human suffering, even when it’s of the most atrocious and unimaginable kind. The heart of man has grown hard, unforgiving and emotionless. Many no longer appreciate, respect and value human life other than their own.
Sure, when most people hear stories like the one about Malakai, they probably have trouble understanding how it can happen. What kind of mind grips a toddler by the front of his shirt, lifts him from the ground, and smashes his head against a wall? Human beings are not supposed to act that way _ we may think. But after a while our thoughts probably shift to the next episode of American Idol that follows the nightly news.
How have men’s hearts grown so cold, so callous and hard, that we are scarcely impacted by gruesome news of horrific crimes? In a world gone berserk on brutality, how can we rear our children to be warm, loving, compassionate human beings with a healthy respect and appreciation for the preciousness of human life?
Without Natural Affection
Some might say that history is stained with aggression and cruelty, and people today are no more callous than at any other time in history. But read what the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3: “[U]nderstand this, that in the last days will come (set in) perilous times of great stress and trouble …. For people will be lovers of self and [utterly] self-centered …. [They will be] without natural [human] affection (callous and inhuman) … uncontrolled and fierce …” (verses 1-3, Amplified Bible). The term “last days” refers to human society just prior to the return of Jesus Christ—the time we live in now.
Our planet has never been as perilous, as dangerous, as it is today. Consider the terms Paul used to describe the way people would be in our time: lovers of self, self-centered, lacking natural affection, callous, inhuman, uncontrolled and fierce. There simply are no better terms to describe the gut-wrenching state of mankind today. The minds of millions, including children, are steadily degenerating to the point where they are void of natural affection. Our Western culture desensitizes people to violence and cruelty, to human suffering and pain, to death. If you read newspapers or watch the news, you know that this is precisely the mental state of too many.
In light of Paul’s prophecy, consider the following stories, gleaned from mainstream news sources in July alone.
In Australia, an 11-year-old boy was taken into custody after he pressured two preschool-age girls into having sex with him and infected both with sexually transmitted diseases.
In Britain, a 67-year-old man who was playing cricket with his son died of a heart attack after he was stoned by a gang of children. The youngest offender was 10 years old.
In America, a 13-year-old girl killed her father by shooting him in the face with a 12-gauge shotgun as he slept.
Stories of children and teens beating the elderly and homeless are common. Strong’s Concordance defines the word fierce in 2 Timothy 3 as “not tame” and “savage.” In many ways, Western societies are devolving into cesspools of uncouth, uneducated, emotionless pits of savagery. Gang warfare occurs in nearly every major city. In California, a woman was prosecuted for driving her 14-year-old son and his gang friends to a skate park where they beat and stabbed another boy to death. Astoundingly, the mother had known exactly what the boys were planning.
In San Francisco, two teenage girls were prosecuted for animal cruelty after they poured gasoline on a kitten, ignited it on fire, and then laughed as the cat screeched in pain. Proverbs 12:10 says a person’s nature is revealed by the way he or she treats animals. What kind of society produces teenagers that enjoy burning animals alive?
Clarke’s Commentary describes the term without natural affection as, “Without that affection which parents bear to their young, and which the young bear to their parents. An affection which is common to every class of animals ….” In these perilous times, there are many cases where familial love—that natural warmth between parents and children—has grown cold.
In Reno, Nevada, Michael and Iana Straw were prosecuted for child neglect after authorities found their 22-month-old son and 11-month-old daughter severely malnourished and on the verge of starvation. “Police said hospital staff had to shave the head of the girl because her hair was matted with cat urine. The 10-pound girl also had a mouth infection, dry skin and severe dehydration. Her brother had to be treated for starvation and a genital infection. His lack of muscle development caused him difficulty in walking …” (Associated Press, July 15).
The reason for Mr. and Mrs. Straw’s neglect? Both were obsessed with online role-playing games. “They had food; they just chose not to give it to their kids because they were too busy playing video games” (ibid.). Some animals travel miles to find food for their young; this couple couldn’t set down their game controllers and walk to the pantry!
In South Carolina, authorities found the dead bodies of two toddlers in trash bags under a kitchen sink. The children, a 1-year-old girl and 4-year-old boy, had died when their mother had left them in the car all day while she was at work.
In Maryland, police searching the home of a mother accused of killing her baby discovered the remains of three additional fetuses on the property.
In Phoenix, Arizona, a man died after being shot by policemen with a stun gun. Police had been called in as the 49-year-old man was performing an exorcism on his 3-year-old granddaughter. When the police arrived and opened the door of the bedroom, they saw the man “choking his bloodied granddaughter, who was crying in pain and gasping” (ibid., July 29).
In Florida, a woman was prosecuted after authorities found she had bound, starved and abused a total of 11 adopted children. The woman had adopted the children in order to receive as much as $2 million in welfare payments.
In another instance, authorities arrested a man from Ohio who attempted to rent two girls, ages 9 and 12, to abuse them sexually.
Again—all these stories occurred in July of this year.
Such atrocities occur frequently. The reality is, brutality and callousness are spreading. Most of us, when we hear such stories, turn the page or switch channels and never really think about what is happening. This failure to confront reality reflects a certain heartlessness toward the suffering of our fellow human beings.
Why are so few asking how parents are simply falling out of love with their children? What is the cause? Only when this is understood can brutality be eradicated. Only by knowing the cause can we learn how to protect our families from being besieged by such tragedy.
The causes for this pervasive spirit of callousness are both physical and spiritual in nature. On the physical level, Western culture and society devalues life and worships violence and death.
Consider the television shows, movies, music and video games that comprise the mental diet of millions. Hardcore violence, sexual deviancy and macabre murders form the plotlines of the most popular television shows. Shows like CSI and Law and Order are built around violence so graphic and ghoulish that it’s beyond the imagination of most people—until it’s sitting in their living room at prime time. A sort of justice is often served, but the road to it is strewn with decapitated heads, decomposing bodies and heinous sexual deviancy including rape, incest and bestiality. A generation ago it would have been unthinkable to show such scenes on television; today they plaster every network.
These shows not only desensitize viewers to senseless and lurid violence, human pain and suffering and odious images of death—they also gradually whittle down the viewers’ respect and appreciation for the preciousness of human life.
Consider the programming designed for our children. Some cartoons contain even more acts of violence than adult programming. Could the repeated killings and acts of senseless butchery on television and the big screen have any connection with the younger generation’s increasing loss of respect for human life? What are these images doing to our children’s minds, to their understanding of the sanctity of life?
Consider popular music. Rap and hip-hop singers frequently boast about killing police, engaging in gang warfare and practicing perverted sex. Look at the tidal wave of video games deluging society; they are charged with unspeakable blood and gore, sexual innuendos and images, graphic sadism and violence, death and destruction. Callousness toward human misery is epitomized in these games, just as in many of the most popular television shows and music genres.
The point is, Western culture idolizes brutality and violence. Human suffering has become a source of entertainment rather than something that saddens and disgusts us. Horror movies with disturbing plotlines and grisly death scenes are among the most popular for teens. tv and movie producers behave as if the more gross the scene, the more captivating it will be.
Protect Your Family From Murderers
To protect ourselves and our family members, we must make a stand against these psychological assaults. We must build a virtual wall around our homes; monitor what travels in and out of our children’s minds, turn off violent television shows, discard graphic video games.
Proper education will also help protect our families. As children mature, they do need to come to understand the reality of the world they live in; they should be taught that violence, brutal crimes and horrible events do occur. But this kind of knowledge should be given in stages, as the child grows in the mental and emotional maturity to handle it. Young children do not need gruesome details swimming around in their heads.
If we’re not careful, television and video games will program our children to consider human suffering as no big deal. Counter this influence by explaining that violence and death should not be taken casually. Introduce children to the realities of this world in a manner that will arouse their compassion and empathy, not sear their minds. Teach them that nothing justifies violent retribution or the embracing of cruelty, and that grisly crimes should never be glorified as the media tends to do. Educate your children to respect and value life.
Most importantly, we must educate our families on God’s perspective on human life. We must teach that God has a great purpose for mankind and deeply values every human life. Show children that a godly mind is repulsed by brutality and saddened by suffering.
Request a free copy of The Incredible Human Potential. It will prove an ideal textbook in this education.
The Ultimate Cause
The ultimate cause of the brutality pervading our society is spiritual in nature.
It’s easy to accept that those committing these unspeakable acts have mental, emotional and spiritual voids—but what about the societies that have produced such people and grown callous to barbarism?
Any person who doesn’t cherish and respect the sanctity of life, any mind not repulsed by cruelty and sickened by suffering, also suffers a desperate spiritual and mental void.
Put simply, the cause for the loss of natural affection is disobedience to God’s spiritual and physical laws of love.
The same God who created mankind created law. His laws, both physical and spiritual, were designed to protect His creation. God designed law to ensure that we value, respect, enhance and nurture that creation—especially human life.
Today, man despises law. We complain that it infringes on our freedom to live the way we want. But the Bible tells us that the law God created is good (1 Timothy 1:8). It shows that submission to God’s law brings the excellent, profitable and blessed results God intended for human beings.
What happens when God’s law is rejected, despised, ridiculed and trampled on? Well, look around. The state of mankind today—the wars and violence, greed and vanity, sexual perversion, broken families, plagues and diseases, economic calamity, depression—is all the product of broken laws. Disobedience drives a person inward; it propels one to become self-absorbed, entirely devoted to satisfying selfish desires and lusts.
This is why millions are unaffected by the suffering occurring around them. Selfishness is the mental state of mankind, just as the Apostle Paul said: Most men are “lovers of self” and “utterly self-centered”—everything they do revolves around pleasing themselves. The more intense a person’s self-absorption, the more he or she neglects the needs, cares and sufferings of others.
This is against the law—God’s law!
If people obeyed God’s commandments, the tragic incidents so common in our daily news would never occur. If all men obeyed the spiritual intent of God’s law—if they valued the welfare of others above their own—crime would cease; child abuse would end; there would be no violence, no murders.
People who are obedient to God’s law are striving to be selfless; they are more concerned about pleasing God and respecting and loving fellow man than about pleasing themselves. This is why the Apostle James called God’s law “the law of liberty” (James 1:25). It frees people from the fruits of selfishness.
Obedience will protect you. It will prevent you from growing heartless to human suffering. It will guarantee that you and your children develop into loving, warm, caring individuals. Obedience to God’s law will help you become more kind and compassionate.
Millions of people claim they possess love today. But how does their claim measure against what the Apostle Paul wrote about God’s love? “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. … Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law” (Romans 13:8, 10). Love and obedience to God’s law walk side by side. In order to be a loving person, to be a person overflowing with right emotion and an outward focus, you must fulfill, or obey, the law of God.
Herbert W. Armstrong explained the connection between love and obedience further. “The whole law of God is summed up in one word—love! And it requires love expressed in action to fulfill the law. But this law-principle of love is subdivided into the two Great Commandments—love toward God, and love toward neighbor. The first four of the Ten Commandments define love toward God. The last six tell us how to love neighbor. … ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.’ Of course that is a lot of love!” (The Missing Dimension in Sex).
Though mankind despises God’s commandments, the fact is that they are the ultimate solution to this callous, loveless world! If Derris Smith obeyed God’s law, little Malakai Glenn would still be alive today. It is that simple.
Are you prepared to confront the cause of the tragic realities in this world? Are you willing to ask why human suffering is so widespread, how the planet has gone berserk on brutality and what will the ultimate solution be? Answering these questions will demand you realize some harsh and horrible truths about the state of this world. But the answers will open up knowledge that will bring joy, excitement, happiness and hope. They will provide a personal sense of fulfillment and inner peace.
Learn the glorious solution to this crisis. Begin learning about God’s rare but inspiring and perfect way of life by studying Mystery of the Ages.