By: Frank L. Hoffman
This picture of the smiling young boy appeared recently in a rural newspaper to emphasize the 1998 National Fishing Week's Motto, "Catch a Smile". It is obvious to anyone with any sense of feeling that it's not the fish that will be smiling, but those, like this young boy, who have been taught to take pleasure in killing another being. This is not a sport. This is recreational killing! It's time we call this activity what it really is.
The accompanying article, which was written by this boy's father, encourages people who have never fished before to take up "this sport". The very fact that the writer refers to this activity as a "sport" is the basic problem we all are facing with violence in our society. We are encouraged to take pleasure in causing pain and suffering, and in killing another creature. As the writer says, "I still get a thrill when there is a fish on my line."
In my six years of prison ministry, I have talked to a number of inmates who have expressed getting a similar thrill during and after committing their crimes, many of which were violent. As one put it, "I got a real thrill from holding a knife to some chick's throat as I played with her like a cat does with a mouse, or like a fisherman does with a fish on a line." We call this inhumane activity a crime, which it most definitely is; but aren't we being just as inhumane when we do the same thing to a fish? I believe we are. But we "sanitize" the pain and suffering we cause to fish, and say we should take pleasure in it, when our own God-given senses tell us that the fish is, in fact, suffering.
Once we take away or suppress children's, or even adults', sense of love and compassion in one area of their lives, it has a real and likely possibility of crossing over into another aspect of their lives. As individuals, and as a society, we are systematically Shooting Ourselves in the Foot.