Having been away from blogging for most of last year's second half (due in large measure, first, to a fairly serious illness, and second, to a semi-major relocation), my one wish is that I could have come back to it under better circumstances. But recent events in Connecticut and elsewhere left me in anything but a Christmas-like mood. I’ll do my best to make up for lost time, though I can hardly guarantee even the meager results my limited lot of readers have come to expect.
Indeed, some of the sharper among them may be quick to point out that even seemingly idyllic Nativity narratives (“ideal for children”) are no strangers to the massacring of innocence. At least, however, in the case of Matthew’s Gospel the perpetrator was a king madly unsure of his crown, whose pretext was a kind of paranoid expediency; it wasn't, say, a former Temple student seeking posthumous glory as a mass-homicidal pervert. In any case, thank Heaven we don’t have mass-homicidally insecure absolute despots running around modern America. We have other kinds of despots, and I suspect sufficient historical hindsight will reveal the alarming extent to which they’ve come to permeate both our public and our business life. But as for outright insanity, both our methods and our candidates for madness differ notably from those of Herod’s time.
In fact, what it seems we’re discovering these days is that potential loons – and of course I do mean even the dangerously loony – can turn up practically anywhere. And often say and do the darndest things. And not least the kids among them. If only the militarily criminally insane were found just in kings’ palaces. Or on the front lines of intimately vicious civil or covert or guerrilla wars. The scary thing is that, however few and statistically “irrelevant” these mad avengers remain, nowadays they’re at least as likely to descend on movie theaters, shopping malls and primary schools as on gang-warfare-ravaged slums. Weirdest of all, they don’t just deposit themselves in clean, leafy suburbs to do their dirty work. They’ve even been known to grow out of them.
And I just can’t seem to get over the shock. Indeed, despite the "measured" tone of my last post, I'm not even sure I want to.
It may well be, of course, that I’ve bought into our national myths – of by-golly-gee-whiz American innocence – far more than I realized. Mind you, I can easily excuse anyone being shocked to read of these vile things happening in, say, some peaceful town or village, far removed from labor strife or civil war, in the middle of the American or British 19th century. Or even in either of those countries’ hideously socialist mid-twentieth centuries (wrap your brain round that paradox). There's one thing, however, that in any case should NOT shock me. It is that an America like our modern version – a nation so not only self-destructively busy, but almost honor- and duty-bound, as it were, to make money any envelope-shredding way it can – has come to think nothing of polluting its own wellsprings. That an America like ours should deem it, at worst, a sad but inescapable necessity to waste, neglect, abuse or corrupt its own, well, literal American innocence. Whether by means of the latest simulated-reality videogames, or via some other cutting-edge mode of media rabies. As if children were, you know, nothing much in themselves. At least nothing much worth worrying about, so long as no pervert physically bothers them ("Why, kids practically raise THEMSELVES, don't they?"). Nothing more than so many Lockean blank pages, on which we more seasoned ones must ("for Liberty's sake!") be free to write every manner of social rottenness and filth and horror. The better, of course, to initiate them into all the rigors and terrors of the “real” world:
“After all, it really doesn’t matter what we expose them to, or how early; I mean, whatever doesn’t kill them only makes them stronger, right?”
Right, then: so let’s say my security-guard uncle had to live well into mid-life before he had the dubious privilege of seeing human brains or entrails splattered on a classroom window. Am I supposed to consider it a mark of social advance, that in a generation or two that initiating age is as likely to be five as forty-five?
More clarity on this in a few days (I hope). And sorry for the graphic note on which I ended. I clearly have some things I need to work through.