The Kinder World
By Bill Shepard
I awakened this morning; the sun was already peeping thru the early fog. I dressed, making ready to attend church and stepped outside on my porch. In the azalea bushes that line my front yard, I heard a redbird chirping as though singing to its mate. I knew it was a redbird for in moments he flew from his hiding in the bushes and lit upon a branch in one of the dogwood trees. His shiny coat of red glistened in the bright sunlight. I glanced across the yard and saw clusters of yellow daffodils that have already lifted their heads above the cold winter’s earth. “What a beautiful world,” I thought and then a question appeared in my mind, “Why is it so mean?”
It happens so often these days, I turn on my TV and there is Breaking News – another killing has taken place! That kind of news has become a common experience in our world. Each time they happen we hear words like, “We are gonna investigate and make sure it doesn’t happen again!” But it does!
It has been more than twenty years since the first President George Bush spoke of his vision of a kinder and more gentle America while addressing the nation in one of his State of the Union Addresses. Today when I view what is happening in this great land I have to ask, “What has happened to that vision?” Since that time more than two decades ago, America has been involved with two of its longest and bloodiest wars abroad, and our streets at home have become killing fields! Hardly a week passes that we don’t hear of another murder taking place somewhere in America. A lot of those killings happen to innocent folk walking the street, sitting in theaters, even in churches and schools! When folk can’t feel safe while worshiping in their church, and little children can’t be safe while sitting in their classroom, we have to admit that our world has become uglier and meaner!
If the reader has been following the political debates being held on TV as I have, we have to wonder what the world must think of our beautiful America, the America that most of the world has looked up to for such a long time. I am certain that folk all over the world see and hear our politicians call each other “liars,” poke fun at their physical features, accuse each other of all kinds of mean things! They seem to forget that one of the group will one day sit in the position for which they are all aspiring. That person will become (hopefully) the leader of the free world! What will that world think! After seeing and hearing all that is going on, will they be able to look to that person with confidence and respect? Will they? Will you?
Life has become a cheap commodity in our world, and all of our efforts to do better seem to fail. As already mentioned, when bad things happen our lawmakers make another law to ensure it won’t happen again. As I said, it does!
Multiplied millions of dollars have been spent to stop drugs from crossing our border, and being peddled on our streets, and causing so much hurt to the youth of America. After all the efforts to prevent that from happening, we are told that more drugs enter today than ever before!
Perhaps we have looked to the wrong source for help. Evil and meanness lies in the hearts of men, and only our Creator is able to change the heart of a man.
When things got so bad in one of the Old Testament Prophet’s land, he was heard to cry out, “Is there no balm (healing) in Gilead; is there no physician there? Why then is not the health of the daughter of my people recovered?” Jeremiah 8:22 – King James Version
America was a different place when I was a boy. To be sure, we had an occasional Saturday night brawl at the corner store. We heard of a shoot-out some place afar off but never in our quiet neighborhood. If you had passed by my house on a hot summer night, you might have seen me sleeping on my front porch, and all of the doors and windows open to let in the cool night air. There was nothing to be afraid of.
Times have indeed changed since I was a boy; some for the better, and some for the worse. I wonder how many times the question is asked each day – What has happened to America? I ask that often! Hear it again! What has happened to the America of my childhood? Its such a beautiful world, why is it so mean?
Mr. Shepard is a native of Darlington, S.C., and a current resident of Piedmont, S.C. He is the author of “Mill Town Boy” and “Bruised”. He has been sharing his tales of growing up in Darlington for decades, and we are delighted to share them each week.
His mailing address for cards and letters is: Bill Shepard 324 Sunny Lane, Piedmont, S.C., 29673