Does There Have to be Blood?

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“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.

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Infested and bleeding eucalyptus

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

Albert Einstein

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27 responses to “Does There Have to be Blood?

  1. I agree with Rachel above, how lovely to be able to discuss this with your grandson. My children often have these philosophical discussions with their grandparents, and it carries much more weight than with a parent. I often use their grandparents’ opinions as a moral compass, e.g. don’t post anything online that you wouldn’t be happy for Nana to read.
    You are right about the blood. In an abusive relationship, it is the threat of violence that is a far more effective control than actual violence. It is not obvious to others what is really happening. That might be true of some of these games. When you start to unpick them, it is the casual attitudes that are most upsetting.

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    • Ali I agree. Grandparents have a different relationship with children than do parents. Each has their place. I feel very privileged to have a part in their lives. I like the idea of a moral compass if only for the fact that we as older people have had longer to make more mistakes. Presumably to learn from them. Thanks for your thoughts.

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  2. I too like the tree comparison, but . . . (You know the but, right? How nature is violent, creatures eat other creatures, the strong survive, etc. ) I worry that a tendency toward violence lurks in human nature. I don’t know exactly how to teach that to my grandchildren, however; except to keep trying, gently, like You are doing. Im sure that it will have an effect, Robyn. P.S. I cringed at the photograph of the tree.

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    • Yes, there is always a ‘but’ Albert. And that’s a good thing. It indicates other perspectives being explored. Your comment brings to mind nature, ‘ red in tooth and claw’ I don’t think the tree will survive. It was water stressed over a long time I think.

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  3. Just verbally abusing someone with a malevolent look in your eye as you do it is considered violent (assault) if it looks like they’re actually going to get hit. So I don’t think there needs to be blood.
    Such a good post, Robyn, although I cry for the Eucalyptus tree. I wonder what life is going to be like in 10, maybe 20 years. I fear for the trees and the rest of us by proxy. oxo

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    • I feel hopeful for the future Pam. At the farmers market this morning I notice a number of bleeding eucalypts. We have had a dry spell that makes them susceptible. And yes, you’re right about malevolent looks.

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  4. “The trick is not to wait until there is blood.” A lifelong lesson I’m still learning for so many aspects of life. I love your connection between the plight of the eucalyptus and the nuances of technology’s influence on us.

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  5. Really enjoyed this essay. Thanks for sharing. As regards whether there needs to be significant or realistic blood in video games; I think it is often the case that we improve things without asking the utility or value or the improvement. In the end you end up with questions as to whether it’s an improvement at all. If games wish to mirror reality at which point is either gaming or reality defunct? I also really enjoyed how you used the discussion of blood in video games to transition to your tree discussion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting thoughts. ‘At which point is either gaming or reality defunct?’ Is gaming like fiction then? Allowing us to explore different ‘realities’? Different possibilities? Indeed reality itself might be a fiction or a game. I’ve often pondered that notion. Thanks for a new perspective.

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  6. Pingback: Does There Have to be Blood? — Big Dreams for a Tiny Garden – Ideal Living·

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