When I was in grade school, the world was recognized to be a very dangerous place. We practiced taking shelter in case of nuclear war. We were well aware that everything could be destroyed in minutes. We wouldn’t even have time to go home.

Looking back, I can see that it was a very impressionable age for me. Big things were happening in the world, but nothing like the world wars that our parents and grandparents had been involved in. There were individual startling events that happened during that time, but they were relatively neatly contained. Kennedy was shot and two months later my father was killed in a plane crash. Both were life changing events, but for a kid my age, many things were life changing. The world was a serious place, but I felt lucky to be alive.

I remember being terrified about how much trouble my buddies and I would be in when we got caught climbing around in the rafters of the Memorial Wharf. Some guy told us to get down out of there, probably as adults had been saying to kids for decades. I know now that he probably didn’t give it a second thought. We, however lived in fear for weeks. We knew that such trespassing had grave consequences. We could depend on adults to know right from wrong.

My granddaughters are now at roughly that age. These past months and days, they have witnessed human events that surprised even us old folks. Those girls already know that words and actions have affects and consequences. Good words and actions make things better. Bad words and actions make things worse.

I’m at a loss as to how to rationalize for them the misbehavior of adults in dealing with a pandemic and I don’t know how to explain the disregard of so many elected officials to live up to their sworn oath of service. Those girls should be able to depend on adults to know right from wrong.