I was sitting out under a beautiful sky this evening. It had been one of those very hot days that did not say it was fall at all. There was a half-moon in the southwestern sky. I should have stayed out there much of the evening, but here I am, in front of my computer again.
I have been mulling these thoughts for days if not weeks. I am concerned about the future of our nation — and it is not just about what a certain president might or might not do — although that figures into the equation. It is about the general timbre of our nation.
For weeks now, we have been regaled on television with advertisements about the new television shows. One is about a team of Navy Seals and its adventures. Another is about a computer program that allows its operators and the nation as a whole to track down people who commit violent crime.
On the surface, these shows seems innocuous enough. Seals teams have tracked down and eliminated enemies of the United States and its people. And a computer program that allows us to find and bring to justice people accused of crimes seem like a great idea.
We are in the midst of the single longest war in United States history. We are in no way in the process of ending that war. And our current president seems to signal a desire to escalate that conflict at the same time as engaging us in another conflict in North Korea. Is this the time to show a positive view of even a small part of that conflict?
I have concerns about showing war-time action in a positive light. Many young people might look at the depictions of these heroes and decide that is the life for them. While there are many who escape war experiences with little harm, many leave war with permanent physical and emotional injuries. And our military and veterans organizations are ill-equipped to deal with the many and complex injuries people are coming home with.
And I am especially concerned about the civil liberties concerns of a privately funded attempt to capture alleged criminals that involves the general public. How often does it occur already that individuals are mistakenly identified from pictures on wanted posters? The promotional videos show citizens crowding around a suspect. How long before that becomes people hitting or even shooting suspects? I mean, that’s happening in real life.
Of course, the opposite could happen. A suspect could take action against the people trying to detain him or her and often will have access to a firearm. Many official wanted posters warn people to avoid approaching the suspect, because of their having a propensity for violence.
I have no doubt the producers, writers and actors for these shows want something good to come from them. And maybe something will. I just am concerned about the unintended consequences. And I hope the people associated with these shows are also paying attention.
Jim Matthews is a longtime resident of Greenfield. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.