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121113-dec-lif-trimmer

Joe Trimmer

I wish I were a better wordsmith. Yes, I can tell a story... sometimes I even surprise myself and say, "that's a pretty darn good one." Yes, my vocabulary is better than most. Yet I reach for words to describe feelings, like "safety."

Growing up, I felt I could, and did, go anyplace in town, at any hour, and feel totally safe. No, not just as an adult. I was small when talking about size. Would you, today, let your kid walk some 15 to 18 blocks to go downtown? Or maybe just 10 blocks from a park, at night?

No, neither would I, or for that matter, do it as an adult. When and why did that fear take hold? Shootings, robberies and sometimes pure mayhem are almost a daily occurrence. Why?

Recently a group of kids, supposedly, have broken numerous car windows at night. Why? Boredom? Fun?

I can honestly say something like that never crossed my mind, or any of my friend's minds (and we were no angels growing up). Yes, we soaped a few windows and even moved a few outhouses. No real harm was done other than an unwary call of nature.

I don't live on a busy street, with cars or people. Yet I'd say about once or twice a month I'm awakened by someone, and often more than one, walking down the middle of the street singing (not well, either), or arguing, or who knows what, making noise of some kind. Not just in warm weather but pretty much year-round.

So what has caused these changes? I don't know, and I doubt you do either. The plaintive wail, "can't we all just get along?" is answered again with "no, we can't."

Respect is somewhere in the answer, but where? It is impossible for all of us to have qualities across the board All the rules, regulations or even mandates will not reach everyone. Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness has a nice ring to it but the sad truth is maybe only one of them is guaranteed: Liberty. No one can guarantee a life of happiness.

Another sad point is that we all are NOT created equal, other than male and female, and even there it's questionable. Rather than learning or working for a better life, we think it should be given to us. Then if it's not forthcoming, we protest or seek legislation for equality. Of course, that word begs the question itself: with whom and in what form?

I have never understood the logic that illegal aliens have "rights" that top even native-born Americans. Explain, please. There are about 8,000 illegal aliens at the U of I demanding we, you and me, pay for their education. That also means it is likely that 8,000 native-born Americans were turned down for admittance.

Please don't write me off as just another old curmudgeon pining for the good old days, even though I accept that title willingly and proudly. Nor do I I think we have all, or even any, of the answers. Does the term "welfare state" ring any bells? Or from my point of view, alarm signals that something is wrong with our systems?

Who am I to argue with "Honest Abe?" I do think he might be scratching his head about some of the things rising to "rights" that just shouldn't be and can't be done.

Joe Trimmer

Joe Trimmer is a Decatur historian.

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