Saturday, April 21, 2018
Every generation has its cross to bear
Scientific studies suggest that we remember best the things that happen between the ages of 15 and 25 years old. Researchers in this sort of data call it a “reminiscence bump.” It includes remembering everything from your first kiss to public events. If that is true, today’s young adults are certainly going to remember a time when it was frightening to go to school. Good for them for taking their “never again” cause to the streets! Sadly, it is their cross to bear.
I can vividly remember where I was and what I was doing when certain things happened in those early years of innocence. In this new social media era, victims are being publically targeted and bullied or silently stalked to a violent end. People get so angry they plot how to mow down their neighbors. There's always a cross to bear.
My point of bringing up this subject is not only because of recent atrocities. It’s because those of us over the age of 50 have also had front row seats to all kinds of terrorism and violence in our lifetimes. I interact daily with people who feel like they’re suffering from PTSD, remembering wars and other evils. We seem powerless to stop the madness.
According to a Washington Post article, the United States is NOT the most violent country in the world. It just seems like it. (Think Mexico, Honduras, Kyrgyzstan.) However, in comparison to other rich, capitalist democracies, we have a society where an unusual number of people die violently yearly. A cross to bear? Or a problem to solve?
So, come along with me on a little walk down memory lane. Senior citizens will recognize and remember where you were when these so-called incidents happened. Unfortunately, we had front row seats to most of these tragedies. Still, the violence goes on.
I vividly remember the day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Nov. 22, 1963, I was barely in my 20s and driving my sweet pre-school daughter home from having her birthday photo taken in Inglewood, Calif. As the news of J.F.K.’s death came over the radio, traffic visibly slowed and it was obvious that we drivers were all in shock. Our nation mourned together. We were glued to our television sets for days and the images of a mourning country are imprinted on our hearts forever.
This year was the 50th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. Who can forget his “I have a Dream speech during the march on Washington? Because of him, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended segregation in public places and banned employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or nationality. MLK was the most important voice of the movement. He was 39 when he was shot and killed on April 4, 1968. His death was a shot in the heart of the movement.
Two months later, Senator Robert F. Kennedy, the late president’s brother, was assassinated. He died at 42, after being gunned down by an assassin at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. Another deranged shooter. His killer, Sirhan Sirhan, is considered one of our first terrorists and is still in jail! That’s not fair either.
The on-going Vietnam Conflict was never officially declared a war but it lasted nearly 20 years. On May 4, 1970, brave Kent State University students protested the war in a bloody clash with the Ohio National Guard. Four students were killed and their protest became the focal point of our country’s division. The war ended five years later. PTSD goes on forever.
April 19, 1995, I was jolted awake by the radio news of the Oklahoma City bombing. Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols decided to bomb the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building where 168 people were killed (including 15 children) and 680+ were wounded. Why? Because they were angry at the federal government. McVeigh and Nichols are alive but in prison.
I think that the whole world watched the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center, killing 2,977 victims. Those 19 Islamic extremists seem to set the bone chilling tone for the 21st century. Lives were lost and trust broken to never be regained. The madness goes on.
Each of these horrible incidents happened in a different decade. Mankind never seems to learn, compromise or change. The perpetrators never show remorse. It seems that angry humans always have a reason to kill one another. Every generation has that cross to bear.
The Apostle John said, “Little children love one another.” Love and acceptance begin with you and me at home, on the freeway and at school or work. It’s good advice. Always be considerate and respectful. And if we can’t get along, that’s why we have laws. Obey them. God help us all!
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