Every once in a while, something in the newspaper succinctly summarizes the time in which we live. Sometimes a single photograph, such as that of a screaming and napalm-burnt Vietnamese child, says with no words what others have tried to say with too many. Many times in our nation's history, a political cartoon has captured the sentiment of the moment (a great example is Elkanah Tilsdale's classic cartoon of a "Gerry-Mander" in Massachusettts).
This morning, I came across something memorable in the Arizona Daily Star. A photo with a title and short caption, it casually reflects the spirit of the new American millenium:
A few years ago, it would have been news that police armed with guns killed a man - even a lowly homeless man - who was only brandishing a stick. A few years ago, we would have cared. Nowadays, though, this bizarre and disproportionately violent act against a human being committed by our appointed guardians of justice is only important as a means of providing context to the really important story. You see, the police also accidentally shot their dog in the leg -- but, thank God, he'll be OK.
I'm saving this clipping. Someday, I'm sure it will find its place in a history textbook explaining the backward moral and civic environment of late twentieth century America.