There are times I feel I may be the only sane person around; pressure-cooker bombs exploding at the Boston Marathon, our representatives ignoring the will of the people and voting against enhanced background checks for gun purchases, unregulated fertilizer plants exploding in the middle of residential areas in Texas … it’s enough to make a relatively sane person think the world is going rapidly mad about him.
What, indeed, is bugging us, the most powerful nation since the mighty Roman Empire? We are situated on a giant parcel of land betwixt two massive bodies of water, unassailable except, perhaps, by intercontinental ballistic missiles, which of late were only a credible threat from our last, unlamented nemesis, the dreaded Soviet Union. Since, we’ve been forced, by the prevailing proclivities of the vaunted military-industrial complex, to fantasize over near-comparable threats from enemies as diverse as Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party to whatever bugaboo could be conjured from Iranian interests to some silly heir of the North Korean hallucinatory legacy …
So, absent any concrete horror in my immediate vicinity, I must extrapolate: what is it about this modern life which terrifies my fellows so? What can be so dreadfully unsettling about life in staid, nearly-soporific Bartow, Florida?
We have recently celebrated accomplishments of our beloved high school, recognizing achievements by students in the International Baccalaureate program and marching band. We have also, however, in the immediate wake of the terrible events in Boston, been subjected to hyperbole and unwarranted speculation about a singular exploit by an individual student, likely nothing other than a curious child doing what curious children do, but presented to us as many things are in this hyperbolic atmosphere we are forced to think of as modern life: as a terribly serious breach of discipline, nay, almost an attack on the very foundations of our genteel society.
And though many of our stiff-upper-lipped citizens will deny it ’til the cows come home, the fact this young woman is of African American heritage plays a huge role in how this incident has been perceived and categorized; in these very pages, a ridiculous claim was made that, since we now have a black President and black elected officials all over the place, there can be no legitimate claim to racism anywhere. What a hoot!
Except, of course, that it’s not really funny at all, and upstanding, educated people should know the difference.
So, with all that said, I’m certain I’ll be branded a hippie liberal (or worse); I’ll thank those who come to that conclusion, by the way — because the ’70s were very, very good to me, and because I’m proud to be identified as a person who is, according to thefreedictionay.com, “(n)ot limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas” and is, most importantly, “free from bigotry.”
Jeff Goff is a resident of Bartow.