Uncommon Ground

Kids Deserve a Chance

Kids need access to plentiful food, good healthcare, and not worry about getting shot by an unstable gunman for simply getting an education

By Mike Jopek

When I was young, I did not worry. Earth felt more relaxed. The weather was tough but not unusually chaotic. People were kinder. There were no school shootings.

My brothers and I played, we fished, swam the lakes, and helped work on the house. As kids, we flung cards against the school building during recess to see who could get it closer.

When I was young, I first heard the term “gone postal” referring to how old gunman killed fellow employees at United States Postal Service offices. Today, young gunmen open fire upon school kids across America while adults watch in horror and old politicians in D.C. do nothing.

American gun manufacturers increased annual production fourfold from when I was young. One in 5 Americans today suffer from a mental health crisis. Life seems filled with fear, concern, and apprehension as kids go to school knowing there have been more mass shootings than days this year.

We grew up in rural America, learned to work hard from an early age, and lived life without worry as parents assured kids prosper. Kids took hunter safety and shot clay pigeons for sport.

When I was young, we scorned the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics and learned to duck under school desks in case an intercontinental missile fell from the sky. Seems nonsensical today.

There was no pandemic, no masks or forced isolation in America. Kids lined up at school gymnasium to get vaccinations. An air gun shot the life-saving serum into the arms of the kids with rolled up sleeves.

When I was young, people drove rigs 55 mph to save gas. I pumped petrol to odd/even plated autos during the oil crisis as annoyed motorist lined up to fill rigs with hungry V8 engines.

The television played commercials of a crying man who asked us to recycle and stop wasting resources. Garbage barges dumped trash into the ocean only to wash up on luxury beaches of the East Coast. Regional incinerators became a thing as trash made energy and dioxin fumed in the air.

When I was young, people were horrified that a U.S. President had the audacity to spy upon the opposing party and then lie about such conduct. I recall the disgraced look on the man’s face as he waved to America and then boarded the chopper in resignation. Even wrongdoers had a bit of grace back then.

When I was young, I never imagined a world where the weather was so unpredictably chaotic. Earth looked big back then and politicians had the courage to work together and solve complex planetary dangers like ozone holes or acid rain.

Mom bought a computer and we quickly connected it to the television to play Pong and code light on the tube to flicker like a strobe. Dad seemed troubled even as I proudly professed my rudimentary Disk Operating System coding. There was no internet, no social media and no cell phone. People remembered phone numbers.

My brothers and I drove bicycles, rode dirt bikes, and plenty of cars. We fixed them. We wrecked them. Gas was cheap. We were kids without worry. Parents provided and society felt safe in rural America.

Whoever selfishly put that mean-spirited spite into today’s politics wrecked a good thing. Today’s kids deserve to live worry free. Kids need access to plentiful food, good healthcare, and not worry about getting shot by an unstable gunman for simply getting an education.

The bullies of my young days stood more in the shadows and were shunned away from main street. The sprites must have unleashed the demons since I was young, as today’s world seems unwilling to give others a break. Recall how you were young and give the kids a chance.

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