With my last post (so long ago), I wrote about how I was going to stop reading the news because it was too depressing and causing me great anxiety. It didn’t last long. I am back, scanning the news websites, especially in the wake of the story about the Turpin family – the family here in California who tortured and trapped their children for all those years, and the school shootings across the country, all of which seem to be occurring with alarmingly increasing frequency. And closer to home, I sense a rise in child abuse cases. The children of our country are living in danger, facing increasing threats to their well-being and we as the adults, the people that are supposed to have some power to change things, do nothing, but watch and ineffectively complain about the situation.
And then I think about the opioid crisis, and how parents are overdosing in their cars, with their children strapped into car seats in the back. And how the methamphetamine addicts care more about getting their drugs, than they do about caring for their children. And how many children infants are ending up in Neonatal Intensive Care Units withdrawing from drugs and how because of their mothers’ addictions, the children will be riddled with learning and physical disabilities for the rest of their lives. And how these drug-addicted women keep having more and more children, and then going back out onto the streets, leaving their wrecked children for someone else to take care of, be it the State, or elderly parents, or other family members.
And I also think how our children are becoming more obese and sickly. Kids as young as 5 years old are required to sleep with CPAP machines at night, just so they can breathe, just so they can sleep. And children in Elementary school are on blood pressure medication, or having their gallbladders removed, or facing a life contending with Type 2 diabetes. Although these children are not in imminent danger, they will be faced with the debilitating issues as they head towards adulthood.
And we all just keep scanning the new websites, for the next story, the next video. And when we have had enough of hearing about all this tragedy occurring around us, we turn to cute videos of puppies, or baby goats in pajamas, or we might break down and see what ridiculous thing the Kardashians are doing (and how and why do the Kardashians end up on my top news feed?). We are looking for anything to insulate ourselves from the harshness that is around us.
We have a turtle at our house (stay with me on this one) – her name is Shirley. When confronted with too much activity, or a noise, or a sudden change in her surrounding environment – she pulls into her shell and hides. We are doing the same – as the world gets crazier, we just pull into ourselves, look at videos of baby goats in pajamas, and hide.
And things just seem to be getting worse. Our children are facing dangers daily. My parents lived through World War II in England – they knew who the enemy was. Today, here in the United States – these children have no way of identifying who their potential enemy is.
If we come across a disturbing news story, we might mention it to our family member, point out the tragedy du jour, look at the accompanying video on the screen, and then tell our family member, or friend, to look at the same video so they too can be momentarily horrified. I remember a skit on Saturday Night Live, back when Belushi, Akroyd and all those guys were on the cast of Saturday Night Live. They did this skit where one person took a carton of milk out of the fridge and smelled the contents. Apparently, as evidenced by their facial expression, the milk had turned sour, and so they handed it to their friend and told them to smell it, which the friend did. The friend also grimaced at the pungent odor. And what did they do with the carton of milk when they both realized the milk had turned sour? They put it back in the refrigerator and closed the door. That is what we are doing – we see a tragedy, we know there are rotten things going on about us, but all we do is shut it out, put it away, don’t deal with it. Let someone else figure it out.
And who can we hold accountable for souring the milk? The politicians who accept campaign donations from the NRA, the insurance companies who refuse to cover any services aimed towards the prevention of childhood obesity, the food industry for marketing fat-laden, sugar infused foods to our children, and the pharmaceutical companies for pushing highly addictive opioids. What is ultimately putting our children’s lives in danger, and creating a generation that will die earlier than their parents? Money, greed, and the overwhelming sense of helplessness and hopelessness the American public are experiencing. Are we going to continue to behave like our family turtle, Shirley, just pulling in even closer and tighter, and hoping these threat to our children will pass, or are we going to lunge out and bite the ass of all the politicians and corporations?
How long are we going to let that rotten carton of milk stay in our refrigerator?