When would you say that the Western world lost its innocence? Some say that it happened in 1960 with the advent of drugs in the Olympics. Note, this wasn’t the first case of cheating in the Olympics, but it was the first time that we seem to have taken it so seriously and chose not to ignore the problem any longer. Some would argue that the loss of innocence happened with the Second World War, others would say the First, and some others would blame Vietnam. I suppose that it isn’t the actually warring, that has caused us to lose our innocence; it is the widespread beaming of these conflicts into our homes by the mass media that is responsible for this perception.
I think that innocence is lost in much more subtle ways than the revolutionary change wrought by civil or global war. Innocence is lost when one realises, and admits to oneself, that the seeds of one’s present problems were sewn long before. Therefore, as harrowing as the widespread massacres of WWII were, it was when we admitted that the seeds of racial hatred were sewn in the previous centuries that we matured beyond a simplistic view of our lives and so lost our innocence. It was when we acknowledged that we were wrong to have ignored these impulses rather than nipping them in the bud that we show a maturity that proves that we are no longer innocent. Of course, the fact that we have not learned from our mistakes of the past and so continue to ignore evil where it occurs suggests, not that we are innocent, but that we are ignorant; but that is a discourse for another day.
For now, we must remember that the loss of innocence is an individualistic thing. Loss of innocence is marked by the moments when we begin to notice skin colour, when someone’s address matters, the minute we notice that boys are different from girls and when we stigmatise persons with physical and mental challenges that are different from our own. We lose our innocence in many ways, and it is made manifest in even more ways. The fact that we’re having this discussion shows that we are certainly not innocent. Ironically too, the fact that we care about this at all shows that we’re no longer innocent.