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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Innocence

Each new age laments the loss of innocence. Grandparents, parents, and even children mourn over this loss. Yet, innocence is something quite self-unattainable and still seemingly valued as a personal unconscious virtue. Can people remember when innocence was lost in their lives? And, I'm not talking about sexual intercourse. Surely innocence has exited the stage before that act. I have never heard someone say, "Oh, I lost my innocence at three when I inadvertently stole that candy bar from the store." Or I have never heard a person confess, "I lost mine at five when I punched the fat kid in the mouth." This term has always puzzled me. Innocence indicates a general lack of guilt, with respect to any kind of crime, sin, or wrongdoing. The Bible would say Adam and Eve committed the Original Sin, so since all of us are born with a sinful nature, no one would seem to possess complete innocence at any time. Could a newborn then be denied this "innocent" status? Whether the baby has not reached the age of accountability for his own sins, or, as some believe, whether his parents must have the baby baptized to wash away his original sin, innocence seems to be hanging in the balance. In fact, the very act of conception demands at least one party to be guilty of procreating a creation of sinful nature, so is a fetus in utero not free of innocence whenever it is deemed to be a human being? Is there even such a quality as human innocence? Innocence seems to be a potentially attractive kind of ignorance used to preserve idealism. It is a state that deprives people of the possibility of making a choice between good and evil, or actually between thinking and not thinking, between feeling and not feeling. Certain ideals of moral conduct depend upon the ignorance granted by innocence, especially when broken at an early age. But, this suspension of mea culpa doesn't prove that such a thing as innocence exists. Author John Simmons refutes the desirability of innocence, and clearly he has no sense of its true meaning nor of any extraordinary powers it confers on people who are innocent. Loss of innocence (if innocence has meaning) could be when a person finds "he lives life because he has to, not because he wants to." Another author, Lyman Abbott, uses the term innocence symbolically to describe a part of temporal existence: " Every life is a march from innocence, through temptation, to virtue or vice." Perhaps innocence is just an illusion created by man to explain the desire for a share of immortal behavior. If humans do possess some Godly innocence, even in a sinful world, this brings them closer to perfection, an ultimately unattainable goal of the human condition. Adam and Eve certainly made a mess of it all. "Once you start asking questions, innocence is gone." -author Mary Astor
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