To borrow a line from Paul Simon, can’t you just feel something “slip slidin’ away,” something we thought would always be there?
It was so much a part of who we were that we simply couldn’t imagine living without it. It was a sense of well-being, a sense of safety.
Living in fear? Not us. That’s what people in other parts of the world did as we looked on with detachment, watching them cope with unimaginable grief inflicted by terrorists and madmen.
Then we’d turn off the TV and go to sleep.
We were Americans, and, by the grace of God, that’s not the way we were accustomed to living here in this land of milk and honey. We were blessed, not entitled, which is entirely different.
Somehow we seem to have lost sight of that distinction. Indeed, in his 1941 State of the Union address which came to be known as his Four Freedoms speech, FDR cited “freedom from fear” as a fundamental right, something that was due to us. But he was referring to national aggressions.
Surely, the furthest thing from our 32nd president’s mind would have been 26 worshippers cold-bloodedly shot to death in a small Baptist church in Texas, or 58 concertgoers shot to death in downtown Las Vegas, or nine congregants shot to death during a Bible study in the historically black Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, or 20 children and six staff members shot to death at an elementary school in Connecticut.
And don’t forget the 12 students and one teacher shot to death at Columbine High School, or the 32 shot to death in the massacre at Virginia Tech, or the 49 shot to death at Pulse, the gay nightclub in Orlando.
Don’t look for a demographic commonality here. There is none.
All that united these victims was their innocence. Americans dying in churches and schools tears at the heart of all we hold dear, but they’re also dying in Walmarts, Starbucks, movie theaters, and that’s just as excruciating.
This is not the America that was left to us.
Could it be we have not been as appreciative as those Americans who lived here before us, the ones who placed “In God We Trust” on our national coinage, and heartily sang “God Bless America,” and regarded our anthem and our flag with an enduring respect for all they represented?
That’s the feeling here. Maybe you have a better theory.
But one thing we can all agree on is that something very precious is slip slidin’ away right before our eyes.
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