World Affairs When I Was Twelve

In May of 1968, I was twelve years old. One month before my birthday on April 4th, Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated. One month after my twelfth birthday on June 6th, Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated. Of course, I was only seven when his brother, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, TX. But I DO remember being let out of school early that day and the wall-to-wall television coverage that ensued. But I got the picture. It was obvious. People killed each other for political reasons.

Even as a newly minted 12 year old I remember wondering if things were this bad when I was twelve, how bad were things going to be when I was finally a grown up. I was genuinely worried that assassination, chaos and anarchy would become the norm and that I might not be safe, might not even have the chance to grow up.

That’s a scary conclusion at any age let alone when you’re 12.

Of course, in 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin (Has there ever been a better name for an astronaut than Buzz Aldrin?) walked on the moon and I watched it all on the family TV in Camp Hill, PA. All was right with the world after that. There was hope after all.

I’m not going to tell you that I did a lot of hand wringing or that I lost any sleep over the chaos that was the late ‘60’s. It was more of an intellectual exercise than it was a visceral one.  I remember being genuinely concerned about not just my future but everyone’s. It stood out in my mind as the years went on. Of course, I grew up (debatable) and put all of that into the appropriate context as the 70’s and subsequent decades progressed.

Everything old is new again.

Today a new Internet video documents the beheading of a second American journalist, Steven Sotloff.

To say that I fully understand the nature of terrorism would be a lie. I know the dictionary definition of terrorism and its political roots, but understanding is beyond my capability. What the hell is wrong with people?

What the hell is wrong with people?

I don’t know what else to say, really. There’s certainly little I can do to affect any resolution just as there was little I could do to affect the world when I was 12. But I’m concerned again. Not so much for me, of course, because much of my life is in the proverbial rear view mirror. But not for my sons, Jon and Andy and not for Beth’s boys, Nate and Garrett. What will their respective lives be like in ten years? Twenty five years? Fifty years? Will they have to live under the fear of assassination, chaos and anarchy? Will I again?

I’m no expert, but I do know how I feel. And I’m concerned again. For all of us.


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