I had an email question last month from an FR (faithful reader) who
ended her message with, "Looking forward to Ye Wise Olde Crone's
The question was -- do I have any answers to some of the serious social
problems that I write about? I'm sorry, but after nearly 86 years of
knocking around in this world, this Wise Olde Crone has lots of
theories, but no firm answers.
I have tried to turn my personal clock back to my youth to see what has
changed. In High School in the late twenties liquor was illegal, there
were no drugs, no automobiles for kids (we went to the Prom on the
streetcar), no television and no free sex. I'm sure our libidos were
the same as those of kids today, but we were still operating under Queen
Victoria's rules, and our parents strictly enforced them. What that
means is simply that it was a lot harder to get in trouble. It doesn't
mean that nobody did.
In college during prohibition the very few students who drank had to do
it in secret and there were no drugs or coed dorms. In fact, there
weren't any dorms at all in Boulder then. In four years of living in a
sorority house, there was only one "sister" who got married a lot
sooner than she intended. For the record, she and her husband
celebrated their 50th anniversary.
In this century a lot of things have happened to change the cultural
climate. Just a few are scientific research, the technological
revolution, the power of television, worldwide instant communication,
the huge availability of illegal drugs, the pill, and the Vietnam War
with the social rebellion that was long overdue but went too far.
So, like it or not, I live in a different world than I did when I was
20. But for all the changes, the goals are about what they were then.
How do we maintain a civilized society in which we respect each other,
protect our children, and maintain our individual freedoms?
I think a lot of our worst problems came together last week in one
event, the shooting of a first grader in Michigan by her six year old
classmate. That little boy had faced, in only six years, almost every
problem we face today as a society. His father was in jail, his mother
had been evicted from her house, and had passed him off to her brother
who reportedly runs a crack house. The little boy slept on the floor on
a blanket and was surrounded, at age 6, by people coming and going at
all hours buying and selling drugs. He found a loaded pistol lying on
the floor and picked it up and stuck it in his pants. Why not?
Reportedly he was a bully on the playground and the school failed to
realize how serious his situation was. Where does the fault lie? I
think with all of us. John Donne said it in a different generation.
"No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a part of the
continent, a part of the main. Any man's death diminishes me, because I
am involved in mankind." And the little dead girl and her parents
paid the price.
Lack of personal responsibility, child abuse, complete easy
accessibility to guns for everyone including children, easy
availability of every kind of illegal drug, public schools overloaded
with educational and non-educational responsibilities -- those,
faithful reader, are a few of the problems of our society. And no, I
don't know the answers, although I 'd sure like to be Queen of Something
so I could try to do something about them.
I do believe that it is the responsibility of each of us to be an
activist in whatever area we choose in whatever way we can. You know
the phrase; "if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the
Maybe Ye Wise Olde Crone needs to go into the future and take a lesson
from Douglas Adams in "Hitch Hikers Guide to the Universe." "The
Answer to the Great Question Of . . . Life, the Universe and Everything
. . . . Is . . . . Forty-two."
p.s. Be sure to vote today. That's one answer.