Thursday, July 14, 2016
The Things That Matter
One of my favorite songs is a John Denver ditty from back in the 70's called "Late Night Radio," which includes this line -
"I turn the dial a little bit past one-oh-one point two,
In time to catch the news and see who's shootin' who"
Those lines are more relevant now than ever before. What's wrong with our country that these things keep happening?
I think the best explanation of why things are the way they are was written in a 1972 memoir by Dennis Smith. Report from Engine Company 82 describes Smith's experiences - by turns dramatic, funny, and horrifying - as a career firefighter in New York City. Commenting on demonstrators who were pelting his crew with rocks as they tried to fight a fire in a New York slum, he wrote:
"I used to believe that people who threw rocks at firemen were motivated by conditions - the lower depths of American society. I used to believe that the fundamental problems were housing and education ... but I don't believe that anymore ... The disease is much more seriously latent, more pernicious than uncaring landlords, or bureaucratic, apathetic school officials. The malignancy lies in the guts of humankind at all levels. We have unlearned the value of a human life."
There are a lot of "explanations" for why we're stuck in this insane cesspool of violence. It's easy to spread the blame, and commentators from across the political spectrum are busy doing it. Depending on your political persuasion, the fault lies with the ready availability and glorification of powerful weapons, ultraviolent movies and television shows, parents who don't teach their children right from wrong, people who value individual freedom over responsibility to the community, religious and social bigotry, or any of a thousand other excuses. But the real reason is the one Dennis Smith identified more than 40 years ago - we have unlearned the value of a human life.
A human life. Not black or white or asian or hispanic. Human.
And I don't know what else to say.
Have a good day. And be careful. I need you all safe and sound.
More thoughts tomorrow, when we salute the Left Cheek Ass Clown for July.