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Rants & Reason

The Kiwis are praying for us

12/5/2018

And a word from the massacre generation

This holiday season comes with the gut-wrenching fact that — really — there have to be better ways to share fellowship and mutual concerns than for us to grieve in a place of worship or other community center. But that is where we go to share condolences about the latest U.S. slaughter of innocents.

Soon after the slaughter of 11 people in the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and a few days before the slaughter of 12 people in Thousand Oaks, California, a friend shared this story about an encounter while traveling in Europe.

“At a hotel, a couple from New Zealand sat beside us and [recognizing us as Americans] struck up a conversation.

“…the woman patted my shoulder and said, ‘I want you to know that every week at our church we pray for the suffering children of America.’ Shocked, I asked if something had happened since we’d been away from home. Her response was sobering, as she said, ‘My goodness, are you so numb to the violence and hate that your children are experiencing that you don’t even realize that it happens continually?’

“In New Zealand, she said, it would be a national crisis if their children were exposed to such violence and hate…their church holds classes to discuss ways to prevent the American crisis from spreading to New Zealand.”

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Welcome to the new “American way of life,” quite unlike the dream we wished upon other nations for 100 or more years. This new “way of life,” some say, means we should have more guns for more people. And a post-election headline in the Register declared politicians have found the answer: “Divisiveness pays.” Just sprinkle your campaign with hate and distortion, and the press will cover your victory party and the vows to come together before the next sowing of ignorance and bigotry.

Chew on this: A 30-second TV ad sponsored by Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign was pulled from the air after CNN and Fox News, among others, refused to run it because of its racist hate-filled nature.

For generations we have prayed for the less fortunate in other nations who don’t enjoy “the American way of life.”

As you read this, Kiwis — and people in other nations we consider less-favored — are praying for children like Julia Savoca Gibson, 18, who last month labeled her generation — but not like Gen X or Gen Y or millennial. The headline for her Washington Post article:

“I Am 18. I Belong to the Massacre Generation.”

The article testifies to the trauma that concerns Kiwis but is readily brushed aside in the U.S. with sanctimonious assurances of “Our thoughts and prayers are with you.”

The massacre generation. What else might you label children who can tick off the massacres of their childhood the way some of us might name friends or favorite foods? She wrote, “Virginia Tech, Newtown, Orlando, Las Vegas, Parkland, Tree of Life. These are my memories… my entire life has been framed by violence…[The number killed in these shootings in the order listed by Ms. Gibson: 32, 26, 49, 58, 17, 11.]

“I remember sobbing. Often, I remember sobbing. I remember friends’ tears a year later, after the shooting in Las Vegas, and I remember feeling angry that I wasn’t crying. I remember Parkland the most clearly. I remember the silence. No one talked about it the morning after. No teachers mentioned it.”

She recalls classroom drills more relevant to the threats facing her generation than the “hide-underdesks” nonsense her grandparents went through in worries about atom bombs.

A year ago, CITYVIEW carried an article by Jerry Foxhoven, the director of the Iowa Department of Human Services, entitled “Seven Christmas Wishes for Iowa’s Children.” Foxhoven’s appointment to DHS was praised for his concerns
for caring for children. But he came to be criticized because he didn’t understand the politics of it all.

His wishes did not include concern for the massacre generation. Perhaps it’s just as well. The concern would have fallen on deaf ears, just as concern for adequate education and healthcare funding have.

The Kiwis are praying for us. Lord knows we need it.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah. ♦

Herb Strentz is a retired administrator and professor in the Drake School of Journalism and Mass Communication and writes the monthly Rants and Reason column for CITYVIEW.

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