When people reminisce about what America used to be like, some act scornfully toward us. They say living in a Donna Reed world was great for a few, but that there were many suffering souls. The way our country is today makes some of us long for those days which seemed so innocent compared to the harsh, cruel, coarse, and sometimes murderous days we exist in today.
Yet most would argue that there were still injustices when we were growing up fifty years ago. Black people who had been freed a century before were still not treated equally in most parts of the country. Many women were limited in their businesses, political, and professional opportunities. And if they did enter any of those careers, they were capped as to what they could achieve. Few would want a return to those aspects of days past. Yet they would seem almost welcome compared to the experiences we have had in Newtown, Aurora and Tucson.
Even though now more than a month has passed, the pain of what happened in Sandy Hook Elementary school stills burns deeply in our hearts. There were some who started assigning blame for what happened within days which was clearly indecent during a national mourning period. Yes, we need to find paths to resolve the deep divisions that trouble this country. But will that really take us back to a simpler time? After all, the residents of Newtown likely lived there to avoid all this cultural degradation and live a “Leave It to Beaver” life where the biggest challenges were errant children chewing gum in class.
A yearning exists for the days when children rode their bikes to schools, which were open with flowing green fields where they frolicked under minimal supervision. Now children are escorted by grownups to their schools, which are fenced in and then locked down. Remember even at Sandy Hook the school was locked down at 9:30 each morning, just as almost all elementary schools are today.
What does it say to the children of our country that they have to be escorted everywhere they go? Are they left to think that wherever they go there are people in uniforms providing security and their parents are on a constant vigil watching them? What kind of country have we passed to them?
That we cannot as the grownups in this society come to some agreement of how to resolve this only makes matters worse. With every single massacre, we instantaneously divide into two camps. There are those who immediately shriek that it was the gun at fault, completely ignoring the other societal factors that brought a deranged madman to execute an unfathomable act. Then there are those who argue that there exists nothing that we can do to keep the means of mass murder out of the hands of these freaks.