Just the other day, I heard about a young boy being suspended for playing with a (toy) gun in his front yard while waiting for the bus. What the hell do we do now? Seriously? Our children can’t play in their front yards anymore without fear of the Play Nazis quietly patrolling our communities?
Now, I get that there’s a huge force blowing through our communities demanding we remove all semblance of even the potential of violence in our children’s hearts, but where do we let common sense in the mix? Too many self-appointed magistrates feeling too many reasons exist for their unwarranted intrusion.
How did we get here?
As a child I, along with the neighborhood ruffians, took our toy guns, plastic knives, our dad’s war canteens (and any other military equipment we found lying around the garage), and even convincingly authentic sticks to the nest of vacant woodlands at the end of our street. This was a weekly battle for the ages. We always drew unfairly from the groups and had our self-appointed leadership at the ready to make up the losses usually suffered the weekend before.
There was never any inclination to continue this playful battle onto the mean streets in which we normally rode our bicycles up and down. Throughout the week we wouldn’t even refer to the domination or loss that took place earlier in the weekend. It was a quiet, yet sordid affair. Come Saturday afternoon, fresh from laughter caused by the boulder that always landed on that ever-so-pathetic coyote, and the whimsical catch-phrase uttered by our favorite rabbit, we gathered our harmless weapons and slowly gathered in the “forest” for a weekly battle.
It was absolutely harmless. We wanted nothing more than to emulate our fathers, grandfathers, uncles, and older cousins whom had talked of real battles fought in lands we only dreamed of. We knew that bullets killed, bombs obliterated, planes flew to shoot down valiant adversaries, and blood was shed. I truly doubt we ever really escaped out of our fantasy world to fully embrace and understand what had truly happened during these very real stories talked about during late night family get-togethers. I also don’t believe we really romanticized about going to war ourselves. War was always talked about with great reverence to those that were lost while the true horrors were rarely spoken of.
We saw this in movies and read about it in the history books. The newspapers were full of bits and blurbs from real battles from places we couldn’t pronounce. The evening news was always full of the terrible evils being played out around the world. We never once, though, thought we were committing the same atrocities within our own copse lining the end of our neighborhood.
What I read about the other day is nothing more than a boy and his imagination. Well, a boy, his imagination, an overzealous school official, and a horribly thought out “zero tolerance” policy. Ridiculous. Asinine. Admonishable. Unimaginable. Sad.
I don’t have a solution inasmuch as I don’t have a clue as to how to wrap my naive mind around it. For anyone that actually knows me, I’m absolutely speechless.