Gift-giving without a violent theme was part of the mood at Christmastime in 1987, much like it probably has become this year. Shoppers were seeking out the traditional toys and gifts, as well as the ultramodern items of the late 1980s. When the shopping was done, one could join in on a caroling tour in the Otsdawa area of Otego.
We grimly know what has taken place in 2012 in Newtown, Conn., and Aurora, Colo. Local anti-war toy activists were busy 25 years ago, promoting the idea that many children’s toys express violence and escalate the idea of killing. The activists were trying to convert buyers of potentially violent gifts to mind-challenging and creative gifts.
“If an adult gives war toys to a child, it’s like the parent is saying violence is OK,” said Jerry Kabat, then a member of Oneonta’s Elm Park United Methodist Church.
Dorothy Fielder, a member of Oneonta’s First United Methodist Church, said violent toys seem to make the idea of killing less realistic and easier to handle.
“If you’re treating killing like a game, kids are thinking of it that way. That’s not realistic,” Fielder told The Daily Star.
Members of a local women’s peace group, Peace Links, along with other church members in the area, handed out nearly 4,000 leaflets the day after Thanksgiving, suggesting other gift-buying options. Phil Young participated in handing out the leaflets, and said that after some read them they went back to a store and returned the toys they had put on lay away.
Kabat said the toy industry had an obligation to produce items that will enhance a child’s well-being.
“I think it was Gandhi who said, ‘You’ve got to have commerce with a conscience.’ People in the toy-making industry have to look at themselves and what they’re doing.”