[A commentary from our editor]
In the 21st century we have auto seatbelts, safety glass, baby and kid seats, sensors and helicopter parents. In the mid-20th century, even with all its whitebread conformity and fear of atomic holocaust, we had the freedom that comes from inclination and thoughtlessness.
The kids played with mercury, watching it slide around a dish and breaking it up with maybe a butter knife to see it instantly reform into smaller globs or effortlessly be reabsorbed by the mother ship. Who knows where the dish and knife went? Who knows what leads to forgetting where the car keys are or walking into a room and forgetting why?
Our home back then was a smokers’ home, the haze of cigarettes always in the air. When beams of sunlight slanting through a winter’s pale window reflected on the haze and particles of dust and dander it seemed somewhat like the rings of Saturn, a terrible beauty. There was a horrific legacy at work in that house, throughout the neighborhood, the town, the state, and across the nation. Who knew a simple leaf growing in the fields would become a popular product for early painful death? Some knew but kept it to themselves least the knowledge effect their…..what? livelihood?
The world outside our quiet neighborhood also felt safer since the forces of fascism were conquered across the great oceans and, presumably, here at home. Returning soldiers were delivering milk and groceries to the backdoor; they were heroes and appeared to me as gods, full of life, energy, and the can-do spirit so often spoken of on television and radio. They were the heroes in my comic books. They drove off the evil enemies of my country.
Our mothers and fathers, your grandparents, banished the fascists back then. Today some of their own are bringing it back as if it were another terrible beauty, some sort of gift of greatness, but there is no beauty there, no greatness. It is the same aggressive intolerant thoughtless mindset that threatened the world over 75 years ago, only this time it comes from within. It is the same mindset that turned against neighbors who were of a different race, religion or whose beliefs differed. It is the same mindset that promotes a popular product today, a platform for early death and vast destruction.
As of this writing, the perfect salesman for that product prepares to take the reins of power. He is assisted by others who share that same mindset. What would your fathers and mothers say? What would your grandparents say? What will you do?