This was a question set to me by Tony Goodwin. After some thought on this I decided that the answer was role models. Here’s a few of my personal thoughts on this and why a good role model could change the standard of life for so many.....
Let's think about life and society. These days, life is all about greed - people are always wanting something, something more, something better. Wanting what other people have or do. Kids want to grow up and be just like a hero in a film, like the guy who gets the girls, like the person who finds the hidden treasure, wins all the money. Media shows us that this is what life is about.
Role models come in to play when we look at what these heroes do to get that prize. Jack Bauer for example from the series 24 breaks all the rules to get his job done to the best possible outcome. If that means killing, stealing, betraying or lying, he does just that. At the end of the day, he wins, everyone is safe and nobody gets hurt. His actions are portrayed as acceptable.
Let's pick another one. Batman goes out and beats the living hell out of criminals for 'Justice' and yet it's acceptable to the citizens of Gotham City because the guy is a hero.
It's these heroes/role models that we look up to as kids and want to be like.
As we grow up, and fictional characters become not as appealing to us anymore, we look to real people. David Beckham, Kate Moss, Jordan. These people are in the news all the time. We see what they do, what they earn, what they get away with and we want to be like them - or at least know them. These are conscience decisions.
Sub-conscience decisions also take place on role models choices. When girls get married, it's often said that they try and find a good man that reminds them of their own father. Mostly unaware of their choice as they may be, they happen to find that someone that can be that new figure in their lives offering safety, security etc.
As young Christians we look to other older more experienced Christians to act as role models. At the church I attend, our new minister for example is a great role model for me to follow. He studied hard, works hard, encourages people in their walk with God, supports in times of need and knows a lot about the bible and it's teaching. Ultimately we're taught that Jesus should be our role model and that we should be as much like him as we can be - loving, kind, patient, etc. He helped the sick, listened to the needy, forgave sinners and died for all the wrongs we've done. The problem here of course with Jesus being a role model is that most people shut their ears to any kind of religion or don't know about Jesus – and so they never see him as a role model.
Back to what kids see day to day then, is celebrities getting into fights, film heroes wielding guns, superstars sleeping around - and society makes it acceptable.
What we all need is a role model, someone to look up to. This someone needs to hold all the right values so that we may want to be like them.
Turning these thoughts to knives (or guns). The answer seems to be that kids carry them for protection even though they'd never imagine using it. If it ever came to needing it, they'd ask themselves what their role model would do in their own sub-conscience. The aggression behind why someone may choose the actively go out and use it on someone again is down to what their role model does. They may even have an ego that says they want to be their own hero or that they want to be the person people look up to. If someone else is threatening to take that status from them they decide themselves what should be done.
I'm no expert, clearly. But the role-model thought has been stuck with me and so I put these thoughts into writing to share. You may disagree, you may agree. If you’d like to share your own thoughts, please feel free.