Tuesday, May 04, 2010
Kent State, 40 years on
I was too young to understand the events of May 4, 1970. I was probably still playing with Barbie dolls and jump ropes. But I do remember hearing Neil Young's distinct voice singing "Four dead in Ohio."
The song still has the power to send chills up and down my spine.
I have a son soon to be college age. He is a young man of great convictions and a belief in his right to exercise free speech, to disagree with any and all comers, albeit respectfully, and in the power of democratic action.
In short, he is an idealist.
And I worry about him.
I worry about us all in the divisive, fear saturated landscape in which we live. Where individuals keep ceding their power and authority to business concerns and government, all the while bemoaning the fact they feel so out of control.
I don't know what the answer is, but it's not to pull the blankets over our heads, let fear silence us, or abdicate our responsibilities to anyone.
There has to be a way to balance the public good with individual responsibility. There just has to. I refuse to believe that there is no sane ground. Notice I didn't say 'middle ground.' Quite honestly, I think the nut cases on the far left are as nutty as the ones on the far right. And there may not be a perfect compromise for every issue we disagree on. But there must be a sane way forward.
Perhaps my son comes by his idealism honestly. If so, there are days I am sorry I did not equip him with a cynical gene. There are days when it would make our lives simpler, or at least less full of heartache.