Here’s a link to my first article posted at Christian Media Magazine a couple of weeks ago.
Upon reading the incredible stories of women who shielded the soldier’s body and who engaged with the barbaric individuals who enacted yesterday’s atrocity, I can’t help but draw parallels with the brave and valiant women who stayed to watch Jesus at the crucifixion, refusing to let him die without friends and family close by, and those who were also the first to rush to the burial scene on Easter morning.
What incredible displays of courage shown in both instances. Women, undeterred by bloody scenes of absolute horror. Women, refusing to walk away but standing their ground to show defiance against evil and solidarity with the subject of unfathomable violence.
The Cub Scout leader, who calmly remonstrated with the cold blooded murderer on the streets of Woolwich, unflinchingly drawing near to the crazed men brandishing bloodied weapons, is a wonderful reflection of utter selflessness and lack of fear. The woman, a 48 yr old mother from Cornwall, thought only of distracting the perpetrators from inflicting further atrocities and protecting others. She showed no concern for her own safety, thinking primarily of innocent bystanders and children who would be leaving school.
What an amazing, totally inspiring display of calm courage. What absolute evidence of humanity at its finest, unwilling to let evil triumph unquestioned. Without any formal training or suitable qualifications, this one woman succeeded in redeeming hope in a hopeless situation. She epitomises fearlessness and true strength, without having any chance of reaching for a weapon in self defence.
And what about the woman pictured seated in the road beside the fallen soldier, praying over him? She thought nothing of entering this horrific crime scene to honour the dead soldier and pray over his mutilated body. In place of murderous violations of a human being, she brought peace and showed the ultimate display of compassion and care. She could not revive the man; it was already too late. But she did that which she could: namely publically mourn over loss of life, showing her respect and thus mirroring the love of a mother – an unrelenting, exuberant, undeterred love. This one action reflected the unconditional love of our Father God.
In response to this abominable tragedy, let’s hear it for the women! The women such as these in Woolwich, who, while going about their daily lives, chose to defy evil and stand up for the helpless. Countless other women across the globe likewise refuse to stand back and be silent, or run off in dismay. Think of the teachers who comforted and shielded the defenceless, frightened children in their care at the Plaza Towers Elementary School in Moore, Oklahoma, as a raging tornado brought down the school around them. They too acted in loco parentis where parents could not be beside their children.
Such are the women who refuse to allow their culture, their community or their nation be destroyed by acts of terror or disaster. Such are the women who fight for change or stand up to bullies. Even sadistic bullies carrying multiple weapons, with hands dripping blood.
This is one instance where medals should surely be awarded, even though they are not sought. On that fateful street in Woolwich those women were not seeking acclaim or fame. They gave no ostentatious speeches and didn’t attempt to seek reward for their actions. No, rather they demonstrated pure, unadulterated courage. What an inspiration in such dire and highly dangerous circumstances.
Let’s hear it for the women: fearless, compassionate, pursuers of peace. Oh, how we should commend their incredible compassion and feats of bravery.
It’s a recurring theme in our family life. The tapping of keys at the keyboard, the alluring glow of a DSi, mobile phone or iPod Touch, eyes glazed over oblivious to the conversation nearby.
Sound familiar? In just one generation we’ve gone from radio and four channels on TV to a whole Pandora’s box of continual media, demanding our attention or distracting us from other pursuits.
If you’ve been struggling to maintain some kind of balance of media consumption in your home, or have become frustrated over attempts to restrict what your children view, you are not alone. But where do you even start?
While most parents don’t think twice about exerting some influence over their child’s appearance (at least pre-teen), meals or behaviour, many are bewildered when it comes to setting limits on media.
There is no easy answer; each family needs to navigate through this issue depending on the age and maturity of their kids, but there are some practical ways to curb the time and influence that the media exerts over our children, as well as us.
Firstly, be aware of how media is consumed both in and out of your home. Stay informed about your child’s internet use and avoid TVs, computers and consoles in bedrooms (even amidst complaints that everyone has these things in their room). Make yourself familiar with the gadgets they own and what they are used for.
When our [then] seven year old son received a new DSi for his birthday, we had already agreed that it should not be used before school, nor till after homework has been completed. Agree the limits in advance with your child, otherwise you may well find your offspring permanently attached to their gadget every waking hour.
Discuss the concerns you have and the reasons for them. Encourage open conversation about what your child has seen or heard, trying as best you can to not appear too alarmed by what they may share with you! Discuss issues of cyberbullying and personal safety. Have a look at websites such as thinkuknow to get better informed.
There’s nothing wrong with establishing a few rules when it comes to managing the media in your house; like only having censored versions of CDs or mp3 tracks, rather than the expletive ridden originals from artists such as Tinie Tempah or Plan B. Likewise feel free to insist on adhering closely to the age restrictions on DVDs and video games.
One rule we’ve adopted is ‘No phones’ at the meal table. Texting is only allowed once others have left the table. This allows for uninterrupted conversation as well as the learning of some manners. (And, yes, this rule does get broken now and again, but at least phones aren’t a regular mealtime feature.)
Use technology to help you
Find out about and use parental software controls, passwords on computers and TV (Google it!) Explain to your child that you will be monitoring their TV and internet use and that certain sites are off limits (I highly recommend Open DNS for a free internet filtering service that protects every computer in the house. There are variable options and restrictions. Check it out here.)
Be a good role model
Look at your own media habits. Are you always glaring at your laptop or hooked to your smartphone? Chances are that your child will copy you. Show restraint, for example, by not spending hours on the internet every night and try restricting social media to certain times of day.
You’ve got the power
Lastly, do not forget that you are the parent with the power to unplug or remove a gadget from your child, particularly if signs of addiction are evident. (Refusing to eat or get dressed is a sure-fire indication, but there are others.)
In setting up some limits and restrictions, there will be more opportunities available to take back family time together. Often we’ve lost the art of relaxing without a screen or gadget; but this can be good for health, well being and relationships. Why not play a board game or go for a walk together? Or be more creative by painting, learning an instrument or a new hobby.
When the possibility of further electronic items is removed, kids generally find they actually enjoy themselves (after their initial moan). In our family we’ve noticed that we become more thoughtful of one another, a sense of humour restored and brighter faces return from time spent outdoors. We’re still far from having everything sussed in this area, but we’re trying to have some measure of control over our media habits, rather than allow technology and the media to control us.
This article was first published in 2012 by Lookingatlife, a former webzine of Care for the Family. Written by Annie Carter
As I looked back on the day, I realised that I had barely had the chance to gather my thoughts and was shocked at how unproductive I had been. It wasn’t a question of time – I certainly had moments throughout the day where I could have focussed on writing. But that was the problem – I couldn’t focus. Demands, distractions and concerns consumed me, and I realised my mind was out of sorts – cluttered. I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on anything else. It became obvious that:
A cluttered mind…
- stifles creativity
- confuses thought
- thwarts plans
- delays action
- minimises success
A cluttered mind may also overwhelm or depress you.
How to de-clutter and refresh your mind?
- unplug technology
- walk among nature
- listen carefully
- breathe in beauty
Music may also provide a positive backdrop to encourage clarity.
Once in a while we could all benefit from calm and walking away from the chaos.
A quote from the Bible: “But you should keep a clear mind in every situation.” (2 Timothy 4:5, New Living Translation)