This past weekend had another interesting conversation with my 18-year-old son, Sean. He’s a smart young man, confident in his own ability to reason and communicate. And, I like the fact he doesn’t feel the need to agree with me; further he is not afraid to express his own independent ideas, without being whiney.
And, while we talked of many things — of the weather, terrain, rocks, books, podcasts, food, history and more, some how, some way, one conversation we discussed was about one of my columns. The column, in question was the one, three weeks ago about high school students becoming involved in national issues in particular the 2nd Amendment issue — going on marches and skating on class.
Said I, “Just like when the Tea Party people started to get involved, I am glad to see young people get involved.”
Said Son, “Yeah, it is good. I wish people would stop saying, ‘Just because we’re young we don’t know anything,’ and maybe listen to new ideas.”
Ever the diplomat I commented, “New ideas are good, and older people — just like younger people — need to always listen. Old ideas doesn’t mean they’re wrong ideas. Life is not black and white, it’s full of nuance. Just being smart is not enough. You learn the most about life by being knocked down, having your ideas beat up but getting back up to continue your participation.”
I think I then went to some sort of astral plane and went on a diatribe . . . I can only remember fragments of it, I recollect it went something like this: “Every one looks to blame . . . blame the National Rifle Association, blame the mean politicians, blame the gun — but never blame the shooter, or look inward for self introspection. Most of these shootings are by teenaged boys. Why? What happened? Where did we, as adults and parents, go wrong? Why are teenaged boys killing themselves and others at record numbers? Why are we not talking about what has gone wrong. When my uncle was shot and killed in his home in Detroit, I did not blame the gun, I blamed the man who shot him. Why did that man shoot and kill my uncle? Did the gun make him do it? We need to ask more questions, harder questions — not just cast blame.”
I’m not sure he heard me. He had a glazed-over look on his face. I think he heard, “Waa, wa, waa, waaah.”
Because then he said he is still considering a journalism career or library sciences. I think he would be good at both.
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What happened? Not too many years ago I received the following in an e-mail and I wrote . . .
. . . Americans rarely get a chance to see another country’s editorial about the USA. Read this excerpt from a Romanian newspaper. The article was written by Mr. Cornell Nistorescu and published under the title “C’ntarea Americii” (meaning “Ode to America.”) on September 24, 2002 in the Romanian newspaper Evenimentul zilei (“The Daily Event” or “News of the Day.”)
An Ode to America
Why are Americans so united? They would not resemble one another — even if you painted them all one color! They speak all the languages of the world and form an astonishing mixture of civilizations and religious beliefs. Still, the Americans’ tragedy turned three hundred million people into a ‘hand put on the heart‘.
Nobody rushed to accuse the White House, the army, or the Secret Service that they are only a bunch of losers. Nobody rushed to empty their bank accounts. Nobody rushed out onto the streets nearby to gape about. The Americans volunteered to donate blood and to give a helping hand.
After the first moments of panic they raised their flag over the smoking ruins, putting on T-shirts, caps and ties in the colors of their national flag. They placed flags on buildings and cars as if in every place and on every car, a government official or the President was passing. On every occasion they started singing their traditional song “God Bless America!”
I watched the live broadcasts and rerun after rerun for hours, listening to the story of the guy who went down one hundred floors with a woman in her wheelchair without knowing who she was; or the Californian hockey player who gave his life fighting with the terrorist and preventing the plane from hitting on target, that could have killed another hundreds or thousands of people.
How on earth were they able to respond, united as one human being?
Imperceptible — with every word and musical note — the memory of some, turned into a modern myth of tragic heroes. And with every phone call, millions and millions of dollars were put in a collection aimed at rewarding not a man or a family, but a spirit, which no money can buy.
What on earth can unite the Americans in such a way? Their land? Their galloping history? Their economic power? Money? I tried for hours to find an answer, humming songs and murmuring phrases – with the risk of sounding commonplace.
I thought things over, but I reached only one conclusion . . . Only freedom can work such miracles!