“But there’s no blood,” my grandson protested when I despaired about the violence in the video game, Fortnite: Battle Royale. I’m sure there’s not a person on the planet that hasn’t heard of Fortnight. Even rugby players kneel on the field revolving their hands one over the other to “replenish energy” in the manner of Fortnite characters. At least that’s what I think they’re doing, but I am no rugby nor Fortnite expert.
For the record, I’m not a Luddite. I can see the good and the bad in these things. My question is:
Does there have to be blood to signify violence?
There are many potential discussion paths I could take with this one. But today, I want to talk about trees. Eucalyptus to be precise. Often, by the time a tree is ‘bleeding’ sap in the manner of the one pictured above, the options for the tree are limited. Borers rarely attack healthy trees.
On my morning walk I was curious to see a number of these beautiful trees leaking long trails of sticky amber-coloured sap down their trunks. A quick Google search revealed the following:
“A eucalyptus tree dripping sap is not a happy plant. The condition often indicates that the eucalyptus tree is under attack from a type of insect called the eucalyptus borer. A eucalyptus tree oozing sap onto limbs or trunk is very likely a tree attacked by a long-horned borer insect.” (ref.)
The thing is, violence was underway long before there was blood. You just couldn’t see it.
It appears it’s the trees under stress that are the most likely to succumb to infestation or disease. This presents a strong case for prevention. The best defence being the provision of adequate irrigation and good cultural practices to avoid stress in the first place.
Saplings are by nature pliable, flexible and somewhat vulnerable to the prevailing environment. They need our protection, our guidance. I’m talking grandsons now, although the same can be said of young trees. With good cultural practices, the right kind of care and guidance, they can benefit from exposure to insidious long horned borers like Fortnite.
The trick is not to wait until there is blood.
When it’s explained, even ten-year-olds can grasp the underlying conceptual dangers in a game whose premise seems to be based on kill or be killed. They must be encouraged to do so. Engaging in discussion is like irrigation to a strong young tree. I don’t mean to criticize their games, but to help them apply their own critical thinking, to see underlying assumptions.
I don’t believe removing dangers is the answer. Besides, it’s not always possible. Helping children recognise threats and giving them the tools to make informed choices for their own protection is the way forward. And this goes for me as well. I owe it to my grandson to research the subject, so I can make an informed judgement. I must also give him credit for his nuanced understanding of the difference between fantasy and reality. I still however, harbour concerns that the one can “bleed” into the other.
Play is the highest form of research