What the world is coming to

American flag


Eh, it’s been a week.

I have no words for Boston or West . . . nothing adequate, anyway. Like most Americans, I’ve been glued to news sites and broadcasts for days — unable to tear my eyes away from the disturbing updates and images. The photos haunt me.

Whenever something awful happens, I vow to “tune out” and stay far away from the updates — but, you know, that rarely happens. This dates back to 9/11, I’m sure, when we were glued to our TVs in the D.C. suburbs waiting for word on parents and friends in Washington. It was terrifying; it was life-changing. My inner peace was shattered. And though I was only 16, I was certainly old enough to realize something truly terrible had happened. Life was forever divided into Before and After.

My mom and I frequently talk about “the old days” — the simpler times when she was growing up in the ’60s and ’70s. Long days where kids played in the streets together, unafraid of kidnappers and rapists. No one wore sunscreen; no one got burned. People felt safe enough to leave their cars unlocked, to have their doors wide open. Neighbors waved and hosted block parties. They came to borrow to sugar.

“I feel so sad that you’ll never experience that,” she says.

“I don’t know any other way,” I say.

But their “simpler times” were often far from simple. And we talk about that, too. Threats of nuclear bombs. Volatile race relations. The assassinations of presidents, politicians, beloved leaders. An impeachment. War.

“But it wasn’t broadcast in real time,” Mom says. “That’s the difference.”

It wasn’t on your iPhone, cradled in the palm of your hand. It didn’t surround you and drag you into the thick of it; it wasn’t tweeted live from every nook of the country.

But life keeps moving.

I think about my own kids. They’ll be born in a post-9/11, post-Boston world — but we will work to protect and strengthen them. When I feel anxious and scared about “what the world is coming to,” I remember the resilience of America — through everything, through all of this — and know that, somehow, we will still link arms and work together and figure it out . . . because we’re Americans.

Though I don’t know what the world is coming to, I’m proud of my country. I cry when I hear the national anthem. I’m thinking endlessly of Boston, of Texas. I’m rooting for all of us. And if nothing else, we are here . . . together.