I recently overheard a parent ask his offspring what to do if he met someone on “technology” who he didn’t know, and who wanted to talk. The youngster said he would tell his teacher. And not talk to the stranger. The parent was proud his progeny had given the safe answer. I thought about the youngster’s future.
I remember the lesson well from my youth, “Don’t talk to strangers.”
Let’s call him Jimmy. He is 31, more or less, from the town in which his father and mother were born. As a youngster, he knew nearly everyone within a mile or so of his home, and several who lived farther away. He rode his bicycle around the town, the way some kids where I live ride their bikes around Gettysburg.
“Sometimes we stacked concrete blocks in an alley, to hold up the end of a two-by-ten board,” he said. “Then we raced our bikes to see who could jump the longest.”
“I usually won,” the now father of four boasts.
When a pair of state-sponsored bullies attacked and killed journalists and police officers at the offices of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo last week, a large portion of the world picked up banners and declared:
Je suis Charlie Hebdo.
Every time a journalist is murdered, whether by bad guys with guns or bad guys with knives, that is an attack on all of us – on journalists, certainly, but also on those of us who depend on journalists to function as our representatives.
I was crossing Baltimore Street on my way into the Adams County Courthouse when my phone buzzed. It was my spouse calling from work. A second plane had crashed into the Twin Towers.
When she called about the first one, I thought some pilot was going to be very glad he’d died for that mistake. But two was not a mistake.
“We’re at war with someone,” I said, then hung up and made my way to the emergency communications center in the courthouse basement, where I remained the rest of the day, watching an endless loop of passenger jets slicing into the two towers in lower Manhattan, and the towers collapsing on themselves, killing, at that time, untold thousands of office workers. Continue reading →
The question hangs in the air like the oppressively humid heat we’ve swum through this summer, and cloaks the “news” networks with an emperor’s robe of non-information as they all seem to read from the same press release, and turn phrases of one into clichés of the other.
Should we attack Syria? What will be our point? Will not doing it make us appear weak?
The answers are, in order: No; employment for our arms manufacturers; and what is this, junior high? Continue reading →
(First published in the Gettysburg Times, 5/10/2013)
“Thirty-five million deaths leave an empty place at only one family table.” – News commentator Eric Sevareid, (1912-1992) in a radio essay on the 25th anniversary of the start of World War Two.
With less than one percent of our warrior-age offspring actually in the military force, the odds greatly favor that a picture on the evening news is all most of us will know about someone who has died or been wounded in battle.
It is easy to think the war in Afghanistan, virtual static beneath whatever car crash or blustery foreign leader takes top billing each night, has been going on a very long time. An editor for ABC World News declared the war in Afghanistan “the longest war in our nation’s history, surpassing the conflict in Vietnam.” That was June 2010. Let’s do the math. Continue reading →