There are no moments more painful for a parent than those in which you contemplate your child's perfect innocence of some imminent pain, misfortune, or sorrow. That innocence (like every kind of innocence children have) is rooted in their trust of you, one that you will shortly be obliged to betray; whether it is fair or not, whether you can help it or not, you are always the ultimate guarantor or destroyer of that innocence.
Experience had taught me that innocence seldom utters outraged shrikes. Guilt does. Innocence is a mighty shield, and the man or woman covered by it, is much more likely to answer calmly: 'My life is blameless. Look into it, if you like, for you will find nothing.' That is the tone of innocence.
The loss of innocence is inevitable, but the death of innocence disturbs the natural order. The death of innocence causes an imbalance and initiates an internal war that manifests differently in each individual, but almost always includes anger, withdrawal and severe depression.
The age of lost innocence varies for each person. Some lose it when they learn that their childhood fantasies are merely myth, while others lose theirs due to trauma. As adults, we often look down our noses at those who manage to retain their innocence; we scoff at these few as being immature or irresponsible. Could it be that we hide our envy behind the cloudy eyes of our lost innocence?
It is more important that innocence be protected than it is that guilt be punished, for guilt and crimes are so frequent in this world that they cannot all be punished. But if innocence itself is brought to the bar and condemned, perhaps to die, then the citizen will say, 'whether I do good or whether I do evil is immaterial, for innocence itself is no protection, ' and if such an idea as that were to take hold in the mind of the citizen that would be the end of security whatsoever.
Never such innocence, Never before or since, As changed itself to past Without a word-the men Leaving the gardens tidy, The thousands of marriages Lasting a little while longer: Never such innocence again.