The monsters on Maple Street

From the editor

— For what it’s worth, I know America has changed—and not necessarily for the better. Call me a pessimist, but I no longer fully believe it’s the place where I came of age. Something happened along the way, but I can’t even put my finger on it.

Some of us blame Bush, or Obama, or this newspaper (or that newspaper), or social media, or semiautomatic guns, or video games, or cell phones, or declining church attendance, or pornography, or the neighbors down the street who don’t value things like us, or—just fill in the blank with your latest bugaboo. Well, maybe it’s not them, maybe it’s me, maybe it’s you—maybe we’re all to blame.

This reminds me of a “Twilight Zone” television episode written by Rod Serling. Titled, “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street”, this 1960 sci-fi film took place on a suburban street where strange things, and strange folks, fuel the fears of neighbors. The monsters, it turns out, are us.

I liken my own “Twilight Zone” redshift in social perspective to having awakened from a decades long slumber, à la Rip Van Winkle.

Outside my bedroom window is a mad, alternative timeline in which familiar things, such as cultural icons, either no longer exist or are turned upside down and inside out. Familiar protocols, traditions, and interactions seem to no longer apply. Is this my reaction to what Alvin Toffler called “future shock” or is it something else?

From Congress on down to the corner sandwich shop, the changes are palpable.

One of the changes show that we have become a nation of whiners, victims, fear mongers, and tattlers; we seek to set right our petty problems by crying to big brother—a government agency, a lawyer, even a cop—to settle our accounts, or to simply make life miserable for those individuals who have (or whom we imagine might have) slighted our precious egos or world views.

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