Mark Strickland

Mark Strickland

Where are we as a society? I would propose we are in a dangerous place as a society. 

In the 21st century, it seems we are numb to the news. Numb to separating children from their parents at the border. Numb to the impending problems of climate change. Numb to so many news stories that a few decades ago would have caused public outrage. 

We now have worked our way up to, or maybe down to, institutionalized child abuse. Never mind these are brown-skinned children and not American citizens. It is institutionalized child abuse by our government. Some have offered flimsy excuses of why this is OK, including the expense, but what kind of excuse can rationalize child abuse by the richest nation on earth? 

Thank you to The State Journal for publicizing the recent vigil sponsored by Together Frankfort, but why didn’t the whole city show up? Why are we not all outraged to the point of some sort of action? During the Vietnam War we marched the streets en masse. Is this not as important? 

It seems misogyny is not worthy of action because we frequently ignore that behavior. How about the persecution of U.S. citizens of color? Yes, frequently ignored. Dehumanizing comments or actions toward gays? Probably not even worthy of front-page news.

Declaring “love” for a known foreign dictator who murders his own citizens. Ignoring that one seemed to be easy. Tweeting clearly racist remarks about sitting members of Congress is just greeted with the equivalent of “no comment” when I call the offices of Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul and Andy Barr. 

Are you troubled yet? Maybe just a little? 

Does institutionalized child abuse cross the line and cause you to say, "This is enough; I must take action"? This has crossed a line for some, but this should be a moment of total intolerance by any reasonable human — a moment where we start to relentlessly address our government representatives about this child abuse and not accept anything less than a response of “I will do everything I can to stop it” regardless of political party. I agree the number of people trying to immigrate at the southern border is a problem, but I would expect we should be smart enough to find a better solution. 

I would pose the argument that once a society crosses this horrific line without action, it has arrived at a very dangerous point. It seems that some of these other behaviors should have been enough to trigger action, but institutionalized child abuse is the worst. 

Now are you now troubled enough to take action? 

We have also accepted school massacres with just a prayer. We have accepted 30,000 people who die from gun violence each year. We have accepted that more than 50 times each year a toddler shoots himself or somebody else. We have accepted that our poor and rural citizens are dying due to lack of health care. Climate-change-driven events are just accepted as ordinary news. No wonder suicides are skyrocketing. 

We have seemingly led each other down a slow, winding path of being able to ignore an ever-increasing list of horrific behaviors. This journey has been slow and incremental. Along the way we have been anesthetized against this pain and, just like taking a shot for a tooth filling, we now are capable of not feeling the pain.

We are not all ignoring it, but it seems there are many, including our elected representatives, who are blind to institutionalized child abuse along with a list of other atrocities. Maybe our elected representatives have their own hidden motives that overshadow their own personal morality. 

Do we really know in human terms where we have arrived? We have now normalized our tolerance of institutionalized child abuse to the point of implicit acceptance. This is a dangerous place as a society. A dark place.

If our society can accept this behavior where might we go from here? Can you think of other countries that have done the same? It is probably a short list and we should not be proud to be on that list. It appears we seem to be continuing farther down this track with new events on a daily basis where we shake our heads but few are motivated to action. 

If we are willing to accept this behavior, then we put our own selves at risk of new, yet-to-be-exposed horrific behavior by our institutions. We have violated many clauses in our Constitution without consequences, so why not a few more? You say it can’t happen, but prior to 2016 would you have imagined we'd arrive here at institutionalized child abuse just three years later?

You should be worried. Very worried. Could you become one of the next targets? Maybe not tomorrow, but maybe in the not-so-distant future some group you belong to will become the new target. 

Call your elected representatives and demand action now and keep calling every day. Make it very clear this behavior is unacceptable. 

I hope your pain-numbing shot wears off soon. There is not much time left to salvage our society. 

Mark Strickland, a Frankfort resident, can be reached at 

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