Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Lopsided Life

A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures.

Daniel Webster
Hello Stuart
Watchman, tell us of the night.
(I write because I must.)

I was more than mildly miffed at some parents who, when the World Trade Center was attacked, complained to the television networks for showing photos and videos of the destruction. Those parents didn't want their children to see what happened for fear they would grow up with a warped attitude about life and the world. Innocence is a beautiful thing, but how long can it go unchallenged?

When I was a child, before the era of television, we got our visual news from newsreels. When you went to a movie you got newsreels. I saw Hitler swaggering around, German troops marching in rank and file, bombs dropping and buildings being blown up. But I also saw the poor, emaciated prisoners of the concentration camps, some so weak from starvation they couldn't even sit up. I saw the blank looks of horror and despair. I saw the piles of corpses.

When you went to a movie you had to watch those things, you had no choice. No one was putting their hands over my eyes to prevent me from seeing them. (Ironically, and perhaps therapeutically, there was also always a cartoon.)

So maybe my point of view about the world has been shaped, altered, warped if you must, by having witnessed those heinous films and photos. But, if nothing else, it has given me a sturdier view of evil when I see it and the instinct to recognize the seeds of evil among the still falsely innocent, "unwarped" people of power. For example, those who compared President Obama with Adolf Hitler have absolutely no idea who Hitler was. They never watched those films.

I grew up in an unhappy home with no father and a verbally abusive mother. I made adjustments and survived. Now I worry about the child next door. The two adults, one of whom is her mother, fight frequently. The little girl cries and screams "No. No." They pay no attention to her except to scold her. She has no friends. She never goes out to play. No one visits her.

I am their closest neighbor. I often feel that I should do something, but I don't see what possible measure I can take that would be positive and not cause more trouble. If and until I decide what to do, I can ultimately trust, as I trusted myself, that she will grow up, make the proper adjustments to her lopsided life and survive.

DB - The Vagabond's Journey
Never give up.


Geo. said...

By experience as a gardener in schools and public places I learned to go out and potter, be quietly busy and they wander over to make a safe friend. You could sit outside and draw or paint and, whether the kid comes to meet you or not, you'll be a visible anchor outside family strife --a passive personality representing a larger world.

Ken Riches said...

I think Geo's suggestion is brilliant.