I’ll admit, I enjoy the latest antics of Hollywood’s stalker-paparazzi; but honestly, my heart goes out to the young starlet’s (i.e.; Brittany) who never have a moment’s privacy, especially during much publicized pain. They can’t mend a broken heart, or break a vicious addiction, without making front page headlines. But it got me thinking, what if this was the standard for everyone? What if the ramifications for the 17-year-old suburban teenager, were the same as the starlet’s? If she made a bad choice, it was on the evening news. No more hush-hush, keep-the-shame-away secrecy. No more enabling. Then what? Would you think twice if you knew your preverbal dirty laundry would be thrown on the front lawn for all the neighbors to see? And why does the average American’s ‘stupid-mistake’ seem to be growing remarkably colossal by the minute?
Flip through the paper; turn on the news, it’s all right there. Beautiful, young, privileged suburbanites turned convicted felons. And those are just the few who got caught. It is my belief; the numbers of families with dirty secrets are exceedingly on the incline. It seems like an endless circle; starting with a bad choice, being hidden by family to avoid shame, all with punishment to the perpetrator because of the enabling secrecy conspiracy. Then it just starts over. It’s like the theory about finding a wallet full of money if you were all alone; would you take it or turn it in if no one would ever know any different? I wonder if it works the same; do teenagers, or adults for that matter, go to a party and risk illegal behavior because they know from experience, mom and dad will bury it? I see both sides, and I am certainly not condemning or casting judgment; I just wonder. How many families think they are alone in trials such as these? I bet everyone is all alone, but if so, we are alone together. I am certain a good majority of local villagers are, or have been affected by the squalid purgatory of an addiction; either their own, or a loved one’s. Ambiguous? I think so. A hopeless washout? Absolutely not. As a matter-of-fact, it may be a bit cathartic to entertain the thought that we are not alone; not in the sense of bathing in another’s struggle, but rather the satire, in the soothing sadness born with the revelation that you may not be the sole David-and-Goliath-story in the neighborhood. At some point, we are all common-man, armed with only a slingshot and a rock, in a battle against a giant. Metaphorically speaking, of course.
And as to why; I’m stumped. Easy access to abusive chemicals is one factor. I remember in high school, and shortly thereafter, it was alcohol my peer-group misused. Not that it was right; but it was ample. Occasionally you would run across someone who used marijuana, but I never recall excess, and it is my belief it was the low-potent breed, and not the hybrid mixes you hear of on the street these days. Either way, the only time I even got a whiff of second-hand pot smoke was at an Elton John concert at Summerfest. And I distinctly recall, if there was liquor, the parents of the home we were at (yes, they were aware) took away all keys. Right, wrong, or indifferent, it’s just the way it was. We never uttered the word heroin, or heard of Zanax. But times are changing, and in 2009 I wonder if we have become a self-diagnosing, self-medicating society. And when did it become the norm, or acceptable; and even scarier, dare I ask-what’s next?
Life is hard. I admit, personally, I hate to hurt. And I much prefer physical pain to the emotional variety; this coming from some who has endured 11 broken bones, and over 700 stitches. Honestly, I understand the desire to make it stop hurting, or dull it, by extraordinary means. But I wonder, if you don’t hurt, can you still feel? Pain is a reminder that we are alive, but how much can one person take before it breaks them? And how much can it be masked, until the mask becomes the person? Sometimes reality really sucks, but no matter what it is still there when you open your eyes, either hypothetically or literally. And in the worst case scenario, which I personally knew one, how far can the envelope be pushed before eyes are closed forever?
It’s an epidemic of sorts, our own modern day tragedy. Personally I worry about what my daughter may see in her lifetime. I pray for the best. Maybe we should alert the paparazzi.