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Too Has Injured the Innocence


“…She sits alone waiting for suggestions. He’s so nervous avoiding all the questions…” A Rod Stewart song somehow ended up playing on my car radio. It was as I accidently hit the radio button on my steering wheel as I made a U-turn into a parking lot. The rock song “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy” popped on. I listened to it, as I found a temporary space to park and called my youngest a block from her dorm. It was the holiday time as I’d just driven for three hours to her college.

For me to listen to such music was a rare thing. I’m a little bit of a prude. As I’m more of a Verde, Chopin, Vivaldi, Mozart kind of person. Perhaps an interesting science or cultural podcast I’d listen to. Otherwise, its complete silence in the car when I drive alone.  I’ve been known to stray and pop in an old CD of 1960’s to 1970’s pop music, but not often.

I’d just hung up after a brief conversation with my daughter as the song remained playing. Afterwards, I pulled out of the parking area to find a better spot. The music continued, I wondered why I left it on. Then I recalled a thought just before I called my daughter. It was about a dream of innocence. The innocence lost on many of our Gen Zs. I pondered a thought my husband said many years ago to me, “Jody, you’ve always been 41 years old. You were never a little girl.”

That song brought me back to an innocence that was present around me even as the Vietnam War raged, and the assassinations of MLK Jr. and RFK occurred. Too as Saigon fell, people who shouldn’t have been murdered, were. But when you are an adult-child you don’t realize the innocence lost. At least not in my day. You weren’t taught to reckon with that.

The Rod Stewart song was produced around 1978. A time when there was little conflict. The United State’s military draft was no longer. Mother’s would no longer have the heartache of knowing their economic status could put their son into war and perhaps into harm’s way.

There was this freedom in the air.  As a young man, you could keep your hair long, with not too much retribution. You were free to have your own future as a young man, even if your economic status was of a lower-middle-class income. You could drink alcohol and vote when you turned age eighteen. Although the drinking of alcohol at age eighteen was raised again for safety reasons a year later in 1979 in some states. It was after that song became a hit.

This all brings me to the shattered innocence of what has transpired in the past six years in our country. The outrageous rants of politicians, who used to have a modicum of decency, now almost unheard of among politicians. Diplomacy and shaking of hands across the aisle appears to be falling by the wayside. Hate groups grow, and certain politicians who had the ultimate power encouraged it. A pandemic that seemingly defied most unscientific minds—logic. But you see we were due for this a decade ago, the pandemic. Those of us who didn’t believe it possible have been the stiff-necked, arrogant, and the most spoiled of creatures I’d say, on earth.

What followed that was more greed, and ever more hatred and bigotry. I can say I’m sick of it. I am sick of IT! Not the pandemic. Nope. The hatred. I have been effected by hatred, and by bigotry. The sixth-grade name calling and smashing of disabled people, people of color, immigrants and so forth. I’m just done. Some people are so short sighted that they think they can take away the word ‘gay’ and it solves all problems that bother them. No, it does not. Neither does banning books, nor denying women of their bodily rights.

What I’ve learned is when someone denounces someone else’s dilemma, freedoms or identity, as to not allow it to be spoken of in front of them or in their air, or done in their state. That tells me, they doubt themselves, they doubt their power to control themselves. They doubt the people around them. They do not trust their own religious declarations. Neither do they trust their vows to others.

And I call all that, being pissy. Yes, being a pissy-puss. All this sixth-grade petty, tit-for-tat stuff has no place in adulting, nor in our politics. What some of our politicians have done is create a place for backward thinking, and no solution other than to turn each other against one another. And when politicians and their wealthy backers can accomplish that, then our freedom is lost. That is what our enemies want. Russia is one of our enemies. Yet so are extreme religions of any faith.

I had a client who was quite Orthodox in her Jewish religion. She had a saying which stunned me. She told me that the saying was passed to her by her mother. It went like this: “Anything ‘Too’ is not healthy.” And this woman repeated, “Like, Too rich. Too beautiful. Too devoted. Too poor. Too religious. Too anything.” She stated.

I eventually visited this woman and her sick husband who’d been a brilliant doctor at their home one day. He felt bad that I saw him in his illness. I comforted him with a smile and praised him for his brilliance.  Yet he was ‘too smart’ and knew what I was witnessing. I realized I had to slow my compassion down or it would be ‘too much’ for me to handle, and I’d cry right there. This woman reminded me with a gentle smile as she stood by her husband in a wheelchair to not be ‘too caring’. I read it, and I knew she was correct.

Being ‘Too anything’, puts a person at odds with themselves over-extending past their trueness. To the point, their truth they now will lie for. They will steal for their truth. They will hate for their truth. Even when their gut tells them they are wrong. They will become ungrounded and convince others to follow their path. And that path is often a slippery slope and has no coming back. And if that person holds enough power—is charismatic enough they can turn a whole country upside down.  And folks that is where we are headed, and our Gen Zs are not reaping the innocence we may have experienced as children and young adults in other generations.

Gen Z’rs are dealing with much more than we could ever consider. This is something to address with our politics, and our voting. Remember, anyone convincing us of anything ‘Too extreme’, Including religious beliefs that curtail anyone’s freedom, any adult’s choices, mind you they don’t have your health nor your wealth in their purview. And your freedom and the freedom of others in this country are in the rearview mirror, as we pull away.---Jody-Lynn Reicher

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