Biff America: A child’s innocence
VAIL CO, Colorado
I have a vivid recollection of one moment of one day when I was about 7 or 8 years old.
It was early spring, one of the first warm afternoons of the year. School had let out an hour before, but I was still on the playground with Joey Corea. The sun, though low in the sky, was warm and the air smelled like leaves.
After playing on the swing set and teeter-totter and slides it was time for us to go to our respective homes. We were walking, side-by-side, toward our bicycles leaning nearby.
As we walked our hands brushed and one of us reached out and took the other’s hand in our own. No words were spoken as we headed toward our bikes holding hands. I has too young to feel anything but wonderful, no fear, guilt or worry; only that life was magnificent.
I’ve always believed that there is a sweet spot in a young person’s life when they are old enough to feel love, relish freedom, see the wonder of the world; yet are young enough to not have been tainted by the doubt, guilt, fear or worry that to a greater or smaller degree is part and parcel of the human condition.
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The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.
I have a mantra that I sometimes offer to my friends with children, usually in reference to them commenting on my relatively unencumbered lifestyle.
My response is always the same, “Yeah, being without kids I have a certain amount of flexibility with my life and free time; but unlike you, I will never experience the boundless love that you feel for your children.”
Sometimes the transformation is palpable as parents go from a place of slight envy to one of pride and satisfaction in knowing that no amount of free time or freedom could ever replace the love and majesty of parenting.
It is for that reason that I could only imagine the sorrow and horror felt by any parent when they heard the news of the Newtown, Conn., shooting, for a parent could come closer to relating to what the families and children affected by that tragedy felt – not that you have to be a parent to be brought to tears.
When I heard the news of the Sandy Hook shooting I got physically ill; in the several days since the event, whenever I think of it that feeling returns.
When you consider or witness a natural disaster like Super Storm Sandy or Hurricane Katrina that ravaged New Orleans, of course you grieve and feel sorrow for the suffering, loss of life and devastation. But that sadness is somewhat tempered by the fact that a natural disaster is just that – natural. Call it bad luck, act of God or Mother Nature, there is little to be done and no way of preventing it.
Contrast that to the disaster that was committed in Connecticut: a human caused atrocity. Not only do you grieve for the loss of life and innocence, but you also mourn the nature of man and the anomaly of the human condition which allows or causes a human to be inhumane.
There is little hope that those directly affected by this atrocity will ever fully recover. For the rest of us, after the initial shock and horror it will slowly be compartmentalized into one of many tragedies, both natural and man-caused accumulated in recent memory.
And like all man-caused calamities, we want to place blame. Because with blame comes the possibility that it can be prevented from happening again.
In my opinion, the blame is multi-faceted and cannot be confined to one place.
Though being a gun owner myself, I believe that the guns laws should be considerably tightened.
As a person with close family members who suffered with mental health issues, I’m well aware the options for care and correction for the mentally disturbed in this country is abysmal. But equally as important, being a person who sometimes sees the glass half empty like all of us, I need reminding that, while acknowledging this horrible act committed by one sick soul, in contrast there is a tidal wave of compassion, remembrance and commitment offered by millions all over the world. Perhaps that might slightly lessen the pain in Newtown, though we all know there is no cure.
You don’t have to look far to see the goodness in humanity. Goodness was there in Newtown before the tragedy and still is. Certainly as a species and a country we can do better, and I have every confidence that we will. The innocence of our children hangs in the balance.
Jeffrey Bergeron, under the alias of Biff America, can be seen on TV-8-Summit and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at email@example.com.