I remember very clearly when the world lost it’s innocence. It was high school. after working late one night one of my best friends met me in the parking lot. She had been going through a tough break up with her boyfriend of several years and we had spent a lot of time talking about it. As we walked out to my car she said she had something to tell me. I figured it was more gossip on her lying, cheating, manipulative ex-boyfriend. Instead of beating around the bush, she went straight for it “We were sleeping together”. I don’t really remember what happened next. I slumped against my car and felt the strength go out of my legs as I sank to the ground. “How… why…?” I mumbled in between tears. This was not what I expected from the strong willed, Christian girl I had known for years.
I wasn’t naive by any stretch. Even though I went to a Christian high school, I knew there were people who were sexually active. Working since I was 13, I had been around plenty of people who drank, did drugs, and slept around (some doing all of those things while on the clock while the rest of us worked). But this was different. This was someone who I would have never put in that other group of people. It was two separate groups and they weren’t supposed to blend together.
Years later the vivid memory of that night and the conversations afterward are still with me. The questions however, have become more complex as each year reveals more and more of the dark underbelly of humanity. Since that night I’ve seen classmates gun each other down in Columbine. Terrorists attack innocent business people in New York City. Lifelong priests and athletic coaches revealed to be sexual predators. And where hitchhiking through France was one of my fondest memories, the realities of Human Trafficking and Taken are all too real?
Is there any innocence left in the world?
There was a time where my brother and I could ride our bikes miles from home, come home hours later without ever having checked in on a cell-phone and be none the worse for wear. Today shows like Law & Order: SVU, CSI, and Criminal Minds make me wonder if I built a big enough privacy fence and remind me every night to check the doors and windows before going to bed.
I’m sad my children will never see the same innocence of my youth . They are exposed to things in kindergarten I didn’t know existed until my 20’s. I watch the sexuality of my youth group change and their curiosity taking them to experimental places that are beyond anything that would have crossed my mind at that age.
Will we eventually get to a place where there is no more innocence?
To some degree I understand that these problems are as old as the world. Julius Caesar was rumored to have young boys as sex toys and history is littered with stories of slaves. But, is an open minded and accepting culture removing that boundaries that protected us from ourselves previously? Sure it didn’t take the internet to bring out drugs, rock ‘n roll, free love, and the revolution that was the ’70’s. But will there ever come a point where we stop and say “Enough!”? Will we look back as I do now and say “I wish my kids didn’t know that”?