November 17, 2023

Evangelization Outreach / Ken Ogorek

I’m part of the problem; will you be part of the solution?

Ken OgorekI have a confession to make. I sometimes consume media that includes violence.

I’m not much of a video game guy, so the graphic violence featured in several popular video games isn’t part of my media diet. And I certainly acknowledge the right of unborn babies to be born, as well as that of all folks to live until dying a natural death.

But I like cops and robbers shows. Good guys bringing bad guys to justice. And yes, some of these programs and movies include people getting blown away—indiscriminately at times.

Cheaper by the dozen

Why the big confession? Because violence saturates our culture. Dozens of people—young and old alike—are getting blown away in mass shooting incidents. The lives of unborn babies are still being snuffed out using surgical tools and morning-after pills. Human life has become cheap.

When playing a video game necessitates simulated murder of multiple people; when streaming a show to unwind exposes our senses to shooting, stabbing, neck-breaking—whatever; when civil law allows the sweetest of creatures—innocent, defenseless, unborn children—to be exterminated and discarded like medical waste, we become desensitized to unnecessary, pointless death. Murder becomes routine. Human life loses its preciousness.

Connecting the shots

The psyche of a society is negatively affected when human life is devalued in multiple ways. In the backs of our minds, dark thoughts can creep in, unspoken, unnoticed. “Maybe some people just don’t matter. Maybe it’s OK if certain types of folks get put down and discarded. Shady characters. Blobs of tissue. Frail, useless elderly.”

Almost every time an incident like a mass shooting occurs, we’re quick to ask, “Why? How could someone do this?”

Yet it shouldn’t surprise us when a person behaves in ways showing callous disregard for human life. He or she is only manifesting a message that saturates our culture, our entertainment, our laws. Human life is cheap. Some people don’t matter. Ending a human life for no good reason is no big deal.

The fast lane

Back to my confession: I need to fast.

I should show penitential restraint in the media I consume. I ought to say “no” to folks who produce gratuitously violent content, profiting from customers like me.

Will you join me? Might you take an inventory of the role that senseless violence plays in how you play, relax, vote? Can we collaborate to reduce inconsistencies between, on the one hand, loving, respecting, defending and protecting each person and, on the other, allowing our minds and hearts to be filled with scenes—whether theatrical, computer-generated or unfolding within institutions—of human life being ended with no regard for its priceless value?

Evangelization involves proclaiming the Gospel. St. John Paul II reminds us that the good news includes the Gospel of life—cooperating with people of good will in building a civilization of love by professing the preciousness of each person.

I’m not very good at fasting—from food or violence in media. But I’ll try, at least regarding the role violence plays in my life. Will you?

(Criterion readers: I’m open to your suggestions about cops and robbers shows that don’t contain gratuitous violence. Please e-mail me, at the address below, your thoughts on programs and movies I might like. Thanks!)

(Ken Ogorek is executive director of the archdiocesan Secretariat for Evangelizing Catechesis. He can be reached at

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