Moorings in America

What killed this 13-month-old? The same thing that killed the family

We don’t know who killed 13-month-old Antonio Santiago in his baby stroller – execution style.

 

But we have a pretty good idea what killed him.

Brunswick authorities have made a couple of arrests in the case, after the mourning mother identified a photograph of a 17-year-old suspect. There’s also a 14-year-old alleged accomplice. But it’s important for folks to reserve judgment on whether they have the right suspects. Eyewitness testimony is shaky even when emotions aren’t running high.

Just pray they’ve got the perpetrator.

This is undeniably one of the most heinous acts we’ll ever hear of. To shoot an utterly defenseless, completely innocent 13-month-old in a stroller – at point-blank range, with absolutely no doubt of one’s intent to slaughter the child – is deserving of the utmost contempt and the ultimate penalty.

Authorities say a group of young toughs accosted young mother Sherry West on the sidewalk Thursday and demanded money. When she claimed to have none, she was shot in the leg and grazed in the ear by another bullet before her baby was shot to death in his stroller.

Any killing is heinous. The killing of a baby is beyond abominable.

It’s also yet another screaming flare streaming across the sky to warn us what happens to innocent people when a society loses its moorings.

There are two ways that a young person grows up into the kind of feral beast that would murder a child in cold blood: Either he has been literally raised by wolves, or by the human equivalent.

Savagery has always been the bane of human existence, certainly. But in 2013 America, there is no excuse for it.

There are plenty of reasons, however.

The influences that used to form our moorings – church, morality, family, adults having each other’s back, and a culture that encouraged upright behavior – have all been on the wane in recent decades. Church attendance decreased. Traditional families marginalized and scoffed at. Extended families nearly extinct. Moral absolutes tossed overboard. And a culture that cheers it all along.

When a life, particularly a young life, is devoid of these things that used to provide constructive meaning – and used to afford nourishment to man’s better nature – then the void sometimes gets filled with man’s lesser nature. Which is to say his animalistic side.

Trouble is, not even animals are this savage. Nope. It takes an animalistic instinct combined with the unique human alacrity for doing harm in order to produce this level of barbarity.

Absent the presence of a truly bad seed, it requires some very misguided, misbegotten parenting.

And, of course, it takes an actively neglectful society, one that nurtures narcissists and elevates selfishness to an art form and places self-gratification above all else.

This is a country, remember, in which some last year openly and indignantly cried out for free contraception, a Get-Into-Bed-Free-Card – making consequence-free and plentiful sex the newest civil right. Gratification, mind you, that comes at someone else’s expense.

When the self is deified and gratification becomes a sacrament, we all become little Zeuses – to deign what we wish, and to trifle with the mortals below as we like.

Or, in the case of 13-month-old Antonio Santiago, to simply eliminate them.

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