If we were to compare our nation’s growth to periods, like those of individuals, one might call America’s present period an apt match for – “The Terrible Teens!” There is a definite national attitude of adolescent willfulness displayed by too many individuals, who seem to be straining against the slightest semblance of restraint of any kind. One might describe the prevailing temper as one of national antipathy for any form of control.
Strangely, the inspiration for this appears to emanate from institutions and individuals for whom a tradition of more sedate civil rectitude has been the norm. This eruption of willfulness, though, smacks of a lack of ethic that’s flavored with an addiction to self-interest at any price. Thus, we see the illiteracy of super-media marketers exhibiting automobiles in TV ads, that commit computerized impossibilities, that would surely destroy the teen-aged viewers who’d try them, without a nod to sensibility; while the families and friends of dead teenagers continue to memorialize their incessant fatalities with roadside bouquets, as the ad campaigns grow wilder with each display.
Venders, owners and purchasers of weapons, designed for the deadliest purposes, value their right to possess them, over the lives of the mounting number of casualties they create; opposing any effort at control with threats of political pay-back, while profligate ‘pols’ collect ill-gotten payoffs for pandering to miscreant cravings of savagery.
Somehow, for the sake of all the tomorrows we hope to face and the children and their children, for whom we know we must provide appropriate examples, we must find our way back to the sensible restraints that made our freedom a practical possibility. It’s time for this unseemly onset of irresponsible adolescent-like resistance to embrace the sensibility of caring and conscientious young adulthood and with it, the respect for ourselves and each other, which allowed us to become a mature nation of laws.
In one of his last expressions of worldly wisdom, the brilliant British lexicographer, Dr. Samuel Johnson, is reported to have said: “The law is the last result of human wisdom acting upon human experience for the benefit of the public.” It’s time for us once again to become the mature and law-abiding populace, that made this nation the envy of the rest of the world.
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