Had I been paying attention, I would have noticed that my post two days ago, the one entitled My Children, was post number three thousand on this blog. Big whoop-de-doo. So, now, I’ll have to wait until I’ve published 998 more posts, after the one I’m writing at the moment, before I reach another big-deal milestone. That may take awhile. In the meantime, I suspect I’ll dig up plenty of things to write about.
The Good Fight
For example, my infatuation with The Good Fight. It’s a television show that recently captured my attention. More than that. It has absorbed me. I’ve been watching hour-long episodes in binge-mode, ripping through the first season in short order. The show is a spin-off of The Good Wife, a delightfully engaging series starring Julianna Margulies. The stars of The Good Fight include Christine Baranski, who was a star in The Good Wife, as well.
Anyway, about The Good Fight. I recommend it (with an implicit caveat; keep reading). I’ve only watched the first season, but that’s enough for me to endorse the program. But I’m worried that I might not be able to watch all episodes. Powerful media moguls may decide to restrict future seasons’ episodes from the air. There ought to be a law. Word on the street (and in the papers and online) is that CBS plans to restrict future episodes to its paid channel, CBS All Access.
The first episode, in early 2017, was shown on CBS. Subsequent episodes were shown only on CBS All Access, until June of this year, when all ten of the first season’s episodes were shown on CBS. My wife recorded all of them. And, as I said, I’ve watched all of them. But I hunger to watch seasons two and three. And I’ve learned a fourth season has been scheduled. I could wait for years until CBS might release subsequent seasons or I could pay for CBS All Access. CBS made a smart near-term move by releasing the entire first season on over-the-air television; it got people like me hooked on the series, possibly sufficiently addicted to part with money to see the next seasons. While that’s good business for CBS in the short term, I suspect that move may come back to bite them. In future, I will be unlikely to begin watching series that have the potential of hooking me, only to require me to pay to address my addiction. I say that now; we’ll see what the future holds.
Restoring a Lost Culture
Our culture is broken. Mass shootings and gun violence and a host of other chaotic, monstrous acts clearly show that our culture is in free-fall. Civility is under siege. Human decency too often is viewed as weakness. We’re taught by our institutions and even by parents that “I’ am more important that “we.” The social fabric is in tatters; its threads are thin and broken. We’re on the cusp of absolute collapse. Where and how do we start to recover?
I think semi-automatic weapons should be banned. Mandatory background checks should be conducted on every gun sale; even private party sales. The cost of the background checks should be borne by the seller in the case of commercial sales (which, ultimately, will be paid by the buyer in the form of higher prices) and by the buyer in the case of individual sales. Red-flag laws should be enacted to enable the courts to remove access to guns from people deemed by the courts to be a danger to others or themselves. I’m also in favor of confiscating semi-automatic weapons already in the hands of the public; I have no objection to paying the owners of those weapons with public funds. With all of these steps, though, I don’t think the problem of mass shootings will be solved. Nor will mental health interventions identify and prevent potential mass shooters from engaging in their monstrous acts.
Ultimately, I think, a radical change in our culture is needed if we have any hope of successfully addressing the problem of gun violence, including mass shootings. But it’s not just the gun violence that needs to be addressed. It’s the tenor of our interactions in every arena, both public and private.
Changing the culture probably will require electing a different breed of politician at every level of government. A different breed of politician means this: people who speak and act as if our collective values actually matter. The people in office today should be asked to resign, en mass; absent their willingness to do that, they should be forcibly removed by the voters (of which there should be many, many more).
The replacement politicians should recognize that values matter even more than the legal vessels in which they are housed. Laws on the books are so complex that they do not resemble the values they are supposed to uphold and protect; they are just vessels that house those values and, in many cases, hide those values from view.
Schools should focus on those values, as well. Churches should do the same; rather than absorbing the distorted values of today’s politicians, they should focus on the humanitarian values that underlie their religious teaching.
And here’s where the biggest challenge will be: parents. Parenthood should require licensure. Individuals (both male and female) should be licensed to reproduce only after they successfully complete coursework on: 1) agreed societal values and 2) expected parental behaviors. Then, to maintain their licensure and to be authorized to have additional children, third-party evaluation of their children must demonstrate that the children understand and behave in ways that support our values. Wait, who will determine “our values?” I’m perfectly comfortable with relying on an amalgamation of religious texts (with any suggestion of a deity removed) forming the foundation of value definition, provided that atheists and agnostics (as well as representatives of all the major religions) are represented in the groups that propose them.
This may be too restrictive for some, who might claim the concept is a violation of individual rights. I believe community rights ultimately supersede individual rights. That is something new for me. As much as I value my rights, if by exercising them I infringe on the rights of the community as a whole (or on the rights of other individuals), my rights should be restricted in favor of the greater good.
Parental licensure is sure to be a hot potato; maybe the hottest. So be it. It’s also the most likely to have the greatest impact. Key in the education of children is teaching the importance of community.
There’s so much more. But those, in my opinion, are the most important. At least that’s what I think early this late August morning.