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April 21, 2013

Sense of proportion after the bombings

— I was born in the midst of the baby boom. We were a privileged generation, the first to grow up with a constant barrage of cartoons and children’s television shows. Although Rocky and Bullwinkle were my favorite cartoon characters, I was also partial to the barrage of cartoons produced by Hanna-Barbara, including the futuristic cartoon, “The Jetsons.”

The underlying premise of “The Jetsons” was that technology would progress and develop, but the family would remain stable. George Jetson’s wife, Jane, was a stay-at-home mom who pressed buttons to cook meals and oversaw the robot maid, Rosie. Daughter Judy and the boy Elroy were respectful toward their parents. Jane and Judy wore skirts, and Elroy was all boy.

The baby boom generation witnessed rapid social engineering as forces converged to alter the course of family, state and society in general. We have seen the elimination of dress codes, the rise of the women’s movement, cohabitation, frequent divorce, and now are no longer sure what marriage is about.

Although our technology has advanced — but taken a different path from the Jetsons — our modern world is nothing like the near-Utopia projected by the cartoon. Although many crime statistics are down, and safety is taken more seriously, the rise of terrorism and violent (often senseless) killings are becoming all too frequent. Enter the Boston Marathon bombings.

This attack meant loss of life (even an 8-year-old child), loss of limb, and permanent disabilities for some. The psychological damage (emotional shrapnel) cannot be measured or removed. Consider the families heartbroken over the loss of loved ones, or depression ruining the lives of those disabled, or a nation fighting the urge to live in fear. Our steadfast prayers are with the victims; we pray for speedy recoveries, the grace to go on with life, and the closure that justice helps bring.

Although Sept. 11 is an important marker, I view Columbine as the beginning of what I consider a new high-tech dark age. The rapid dissemination of information can be used (and is used) to create chaos and death. We marvel at how human-like technology is becoming, but we fail to realize technology can help humans to become less humane.

The Boston bombing is the closest we have had to a major attack on U.S. soil since 2001. Homeland Security measures have meant longer waits at the airport, required documentation, and other forms of red tape. Yet — despite our gripes — the authorities are doing something right. Whereas Homeland Security measures have made a difference, stricter standards for gun purchase might help a little, but would merely be token, in my view. Laws limit people who obey the law. The many Americans who use marijuana illegally make the point that law and behavior do not always correlate. Nonetheless, America has its share of people who believe passing a law, rule or resolution is the same thing as addressing a problem.

We must strive to better intercept and prevent attacks, but we can never be 100 percent. When an individual can make bombs from products found at a home center (or cleaners already in you home), how can we legislate that? Even if we removed potentially dangerous cleaners, people can make bombs out of gasoline. With information available online, any intelligent person can create destructive explosives.

So we must go on with life bravely. Creating fear is the goal of terrorists and other unreasonable extremists. We need perspective. Many more Americans die annually from traffic accidents in one year than have died from all the terrorist acts and random shootings in our nation in the last 100 years. Driving or riding in a car, swimming in a pool, or engaging in sports are significantly greater risks to your well-being than attending a public event. Let us pray, help and sympathize with our fellow citizens who have suffered through this horrible bombing. But we need to keep a sense of proportion in our minds.

Ed Vasciek is pastor of Highland Park Church and a weekly contributor to the Kokomo Tribune. Contact him at edvasicek@att.net.

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