Yesterday, as I do almost every day, I took a long walk. Lately, I’ve been walking about 4 miles – 6.4 km – a day. And I’ve been doing those kinds of walks for quite some time now. And I know, I’m blessed. Over the past ten years, I’ve had my share of health problems, but it’s smooth sailing for now, and I’m very thankful.
Anyway… my walk yesterday turned out to be quite a pensive one. I think the walk turned pensive because of The Quiet. The only sound I heard during my walk was the sound of the white, cottony clouds floating across the crystal-blue sky.
In other words, the only sound was silence.
There’s nothing wrong with silence. Silence is almost always a good thing. But the silence on my walk yesterday was a peculiar silence. The quiet made a good petri dish for thoughts and visions that stretched far beyond the confines of my walk on an otherwise ordinary summer day.
I’ve been on this Earth for more decades than I care to think about. While I walked through the quiet yesterday the summer day reached into the recesses of my mind where memories of summer days long passed reside.
I remember the summer days when I was young. Back then, summer days were filled with the sounds of children playing baseball in the park, or riding bicycles or playing hide-and-go-seek.
The ice cream man circled the town with his jingle-jangle music playing that told children to beg dimes and quarters so they could buy ice cream and other frozen novelties from the ubiquitous ice cream man.
There was always the distant clinking, clattering cacophony from the junkyard just over the railroad tracks.
When I was growing up – so long ago – it seemed that summer days were symphonies of happy sounds. The world seemed alive and content. At least in my little world, it did.
On my one-hour walk that took me through many different neighborhoods, I saw no children playing outside – no kids playing ball in the park, no one riding a bike, no kids playing tag. A beautiful summer day wasted.
Were the kids inside with tablets, or computers, or smartphones, mesmerized by the almost irresistible allure of the Internet? We’re they playing games online? Chatting? Making plans?
Last weekend, in Dayton, Ohio and El Paso, Texas, there were horrific mass shootings. Dozens died, dozens more were injured, and who knows how many thousands more whose lives will never be the same.
These mass shootings were the 249th and 250th in the United States in 2019 – and the year is far from being over yet.
I don’t remember things being like this when I was young. I’m sure they weren’t.
I thought about a lot of things on my walk through The Quiet yesterday. All the kids were still off school on summer vacation, yet in an hour, walking through residential neighborhoods, I saw not a single kid outside – on a very beautiful, pleasant summer day.
What’s going on? Is the Internet the root cause of the problem? Does instant news, deep fake videos where real people are shown uttering words they never said, propaganda spread by ideological extremists the cause?
Are our moral compasses out-of-kilter because they are constantly being bombarded with information of all kinds – factual and not?
What is going on? What can we do.
There are no simple solutions, but everyone likes to think simple solutions like:
We need fewer guns.
We need more gun control.
We need more laws.
We need more of this or that.
There are no simple solutions for complex problems.
But I think we can start out admitting that we do need are less hate and more understanding. We really need to stop worrying about what others think and start looking inside ourselves.
And maybe we’re at the point where we need to give more thought to things before we leap into new technologies that lead to unknown places.
We don’t need more laws and more governmental meddling – we have more than enough of those already.
We all need to be more understanding. We need parents who encourage their kids to put down the smartphones, tablets, and laptops and go outside and enjoy those beautiful summer days like yesterday.
We need parents who want to be parents and not just grown-up buddies for their children.
I don’t know where the world is headed, but I’m pretty sure it’s not headed to a good place. While my time on this earth grows shorter with each passing day, I do worry for my grandchildren who have their whole lives ahead of them.
I don’t know what the answer is, but I’m sure we can’t keep on keeping on like we are.
I finished my walk through The Quiet yesterday feeling uneasy and my pensiveness turned to concern and wondering where our country and our world are headed.
And as it turned out, The Quiet wasn’t so quiet after all.