By the time I was ten years old, three national figures had been assassinated in my lifetime: John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert Kennedy. These slayings, I think, laid the foundations for a time of turbulence that we see accelerating around us.
Both Ronald Reagan and Gerald Ford survived assassination attempts. So that's two more presidents (who we know of) who had to dodge bullets.
But of more concern to me is the trend that, if it didn't begin with the Manson family, certainly became established by the Manson family. This trend is to murder rather random, innocent people in large numbers that draw intense media coverage.
The Manson family, then the Jonestown massacre (which was, in some cases, mass suicide). Those were two astonishing crimes. Otherwise, when I was younger, the trend was to individual mentally deranged serial killers -- in and of themselves a terrible menace.
Since last summer we've had, now, three events in which unsuspecting people have been killed or injured with efficient weapons. A shooting in a Colorado movie theater, a shooting at an elementary school, and now a bomb at the Boston Marathon. In less than a year.
I can't account for this. Maybe the deranged killers are shifting from an individual serial model to a senseless mass model. I refuse to assign any sanity to the people doing this, just as Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer were dangerously insane.
What concerns me (and not for my own physical safety ... I live in New Jersey and drive the Turnpike, so I know where my dangers lie) is that these episodes are accelerating. They're happening more often. No sooner do we turn sorrowfully from one than another explodes. Literally.
So, what has changed since the 1960s? Well, I'll tell you. We now have cable television. We have nightly programs that are politically polarized and strident. We have 24-hour news cycles with networks vying for exclusive interviews and gruesome details. And now we have the Internet, where all the crazies can find the other crazies and learn how to make bombs to boot.
We're offering scant answers here at "The Gods Are Bored." But it just seems to me that the trend toward violence aimed at unsuspecting civilians is accelerating. God bless America.