Friday, March 28, 2008

The Mind Body Awareness Project

Sickened by a horrific, random act of violence here in Philadelphia this week, I found myself wondering about the effect on the body of being relentlessly exposed to violent images, as so many people are simply by watching TV and movies in the 21st century. I was thinking that surely this exposure via the mind has ancillary effects not only on behavior but on the body itself somehow.

I did some quick Googling and discovered something called The Mind Body Awareness Project. While this organization does not relate directly to my question, it turns out to relate very directly to my tragic inspiration. The Mind Body Awareness Project "is a non-profit organization dedicated to teaching essential life skills to at-risk youth through the practices of meditation and yoga," according to the site.

What happened here the other day was this. Four teenagers attacked a man at a subway station for this reason: they had nothing to do, and just thought they'd go beat this guy up. Turns out he died of a stress-induced asthma seizure. The man was in his late 30s; he was a mild-mannered, hard-working Starbucks employee. Life ended by four young men who would've been called "droogs" in A Clockwork Orange; Anthony Burgess may have had no idea how realistic his dystopian masterpiece might turn out to be. We have raised a sub-species of human being within our midst and I can't believe that the violence we strew so casually throughout our entertainment is unrelated to the existence of people who seem to have had their humanity removed when it comes to the casual use of exceptional violence.

At the same time, I know for a fact there are groups of very good and very helpful people in the world--for instance, the folks behind the Mind Body Awareness Project. Had they been working with the kids who committed this stupid, senseless crime, one man would have been spared a frightening and pointless death.

The incident like the one I've described saddens me to my core, but it does not leave me defeated. We can and must do better than this. Think about the violence you expose yourself to and ask yourself if you can do better than that.

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