I’m home today having thrown my back out moving furniture. I would not say that I am bored but I’m pretty much couch-bound because I need to go back to work tomorrow as things were left hanging that require my attention.
Stuck in the living room on an unusually warm February day is not my idea of time off. It’s me and the laptop for the most part, and the news rolls by my screen as always does.
This morning, near where I grew up, a seventh-grader shot himself in a restroom. After the scene was secured, hundreds of frightened parents milled about outside the school waiting to get their kids, who were, for good measure, texting them from inside the school, some with last wishes, i.e. not to be cremated.
I am numb and don’t want to be. I told my shrink yesterday that I am sick of the emotional flatlining provided by medications that aren’t even indicated for my condition. It’s hard to work up rage, let alone joy. I go from numb to depression and occasionally, being moderately upset.
I can quite calmly talk about horrible things and this is not right. No human being should think of 17 dead children and a seventh grader starting his school day by attempting suicide without feeling some kind of grief or rage. And yet, here I am, trying to say something in the best way I can – in writing. Numb.
The police at the grade school have decided to let the parents in to get their children (children they are but will no longer remain). They will let them in 10 at a time. Can you imagine?
I feel something stir inside me. But it passes. I need to be updated on the situation. So I look.
Not much. Apparently the parents got their kids and the condition of the child who tried to kill himself is yet unknown. I run across other articles in my search, though. The headlines, all local to NE Ohio:
There was a lot of hand-wringing in the 60s about American society coming apart at the seams – Vietnam, drugs, The Rolling Stones, etc. We’re still hating on each other even more now with a twist – our children are now self-destructing.
There’s not enough room here or desire from me to go into all the sociological pathologies (so I provide links, because I’m tiring easily today) that have led us to this point. The main point I’m trying to make is that I don’t really think, with all the distractions American society provides, that even the most aware among us understands how truly dangerous our situation is.
I’ve spent a lifetime playing Cassandra to my little world. My little world grew tired of my ranting and raving and now I can no longer rant and rave. I put words on websites and send them out like paper airplanes hoping they’ll be read by a person or two.
Caution: a very thin line separates a fractured society from total disintegration. We have moved right up to that line, in my estimation, when many of our children look at the world they will inherit and say ‘no thanks.’
Consider that hate is a fashion statement, violence is speech, money is God, empathy is weakness, cruelty is kindness and environmentalism is for losers. I’ve lived 55 years and I’ve never seen my people this angry.
We’re finding out how easy it is to turn us against each other – the Russians hardly have to lift a finger to do it – we don’t even need a reason anymore to hate, but it’s better if someone provides one.
In reality, the Russians, the Chinese, the North Koreans – they’re the enemies we’re being pointed towards, as we have always been pointed toward external enemies.
But while we spin like turret lathes at the latest thing that makes us seethe, our children are killing each other and themselves. And we talk about guns and drugs, and video games but it’s all the same – the enemy is the society we have created that encompass all of these things into one giant toxic stew of inhumanity.
The enemy that is destroying us is internal. It’s a rehash of our long-running prejudices, fears, envy, resentments and animal instincts. We have been taught very carefully to believe we have been cheated out of the good life by some ethnic group, dark cabal or political party. We look at our fellow Americans and too many of us see monsters.
The kids are not alright. Their parents are in even worse shape and no one knows what to do.
Of course, this self-destructive national paranoia reminds me of Rod Serling’s warnings contained in The Twilight Zone series – each episode a little homily addressed to us that went largely ignored. The episode that comes to mind here is ‘The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street.’
You can watch it for yourself. I just re-watched it and feel even number. I want to be angry, I want to scream, cry and do something – anything – but I’ve done that for so long and seen so little progress I can’t even raise enough ire to save myself anymore.
I’ve been hearing sirens all morning. It’s like the soundtrack of American life.
So, while I melt into the couch of my cozy American living room, I leave you with Serling’s ending monologue to the ‘Monsters’ episode – even more pertinent today than it was in 1960: