There was a television show years ago, "Lost in Space," in which a family was stranded on an unknown planet with a robot that looked a little like the droid R2-D2 of Star Wars. The robot would move about, swinging its arms and warning the humans when danger was imminent. Maybe that is what we need today, a robot to tell us that danger is just around the corner. However, in many cases that warning is already too late. Just look at who we have become as a nation. Today's mantra is "If it feels good, do it. If it brings a thrill at the expense of others, that's even better." Although there were many good and decent things that happened in 2013, there was an equal number of not so good.
We still hear of way too many deaths as a result of gun violence. The Center for Disease Control reports that as of Dec. 28, roughly 34,771 people have died from guns in the U.S. since the Newtown, Conn. shootings. The mental health issues that have lead to many of these violent acts still go untreated and mainly ignored. But our children continue to watch violent movies, play violent video games while parents half listen to them as they text, tweet, email and talk on their cell phones. Where is that robot telling us of the dangers that lie ahead on this slippery slope we are on?
I wonder if anyone is paying attention to the moral decline of our nation. Just look at this past year, and even more recently the past couple of weeks.
The media outlets have spent this past week informing us of the most memorable happenings of 2013; but some should not be glorified. Twerking! Are we so depraved as a society that we watch, enjoy and exploit a young woman all the while knowing that she is on a very dangerous path to self-destruction? I want that robot to swing its arms and say, "danger."
With the social networking systems of today it seems people have lost all common sense. Take a look at your latest Twitter feed, or Facebook page - once it is written, there is no more confidentiality, no more privacy and no taking it back. Just ask the public relations executive for IAC. While on her way to Africa, Sacco tweeted, "Going to Africa. Hope I don't get AIDS. Just kidding. I'm white!" She was fired, but a company representative defended her as being "decent at the core." This wasn't her first faux pas; in 2012 she tweeted, "I had a sex dream about an autistic kid last night." Wouldn't you have thought that in 2012 someone might have said to her, danger? Does it matter if what we say, tweet or text is hurtful, bigoted or racist?
When Duck Dynasty's Phil Robertson made disparaging comments about homosexuals the media outlets seemed to be outraged. But, alas, money talked and A&E reversed their decision. According to an article in the LA Times, "Duck Dynasty has been made whole again." A&E Executives said, "While Phil's comments made in the interview reflect his personal views based on his own beliefs, and his own personal journey, he and his family have publicly stated they regret the 'coarse language' he used and the misinterpretation of his core belief based solely on the article. But 'Duck Dynasty' is not a show about one man's views. It resonates with a large audience because it is a show about family a family that America has come to love."
Have we "come to love" a self-described redneck who says things that are hateful and hurtful to others? I believe in freedom of speech, but I don't believe anyone should be allowed to spew hurtful words and anger toward another individual or group of individuals without consequences. Phil Robertson has just begun; he got away with his redneck bigotry this time, but maybe he needs to be careful in the future, maybe someone should quietly whisper to him, "danger!"
It appears that we are living in a society where the everyday Jane and John Doe vicariously participate in murder, mayhem and violence. A society where television shows such as MTV's "Teen Mom 2" and "The Walking Dead" are celebrated. In "Teen Mom 2," the actors fight on and off the air, and they are encouraged to do so. In "The Walking Dead," flesh-eating zombies dominate the world. What's next? Isn't it time to let the sponsors of these shows know that they are stealing the morality and goodness of what has made this country great? Isn't it time to stop the madness and decadence before it is too late?
The freedom to twerk, ride a wrecking ball or say what we want, when we want and where we want without consequences has almost become commonplace; and we are letting it happen! When a nation of people becomes so self-absorbed and egotistical that vulgar indulgences, and idiocy are accepted without question, something is terribly wrong. When the bottom line becomes the God that is served over doing what is moral and right, we need someone to stand up and yell, "DANGER!"
From our house to yours, Richard, Sam and I wish you a healthy and happy 2014.
Have a great day.
Vicki Westling is a Dunkirk resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org