Two things happened last week that greatly impacted us here at the Carter County Times.
The first was the celebration of life event for Vincent Osborne-Brown. Nothing tugs at the heart of a parent more than the loss of a child, and we are no exceptions.
The second was the was the National Justice & Hope for Crime Victims candlelight vigil, the very next day, and the still raw pain of the Sexton family who lost their brother, their son, their cousin, and their friend, Justin, to a tragic automobile incident described by the family as a “hit and run.”
These two incidents also made us think of last week, when Bob from the Hitchins Post, explained to us the significance of the Rakhsha Bandhan holiday. That holiday is a celebration of siblings – specifically brothers and sisters. On this holiday sisters tie rakhi on the wrists of their brothers, to protect them from the influence of evil. Bob explained that this year the holiday could not be celebrated as it normally is, because of social distancing.
This made us think of all the family events we’ve missed out on over the past several months – birthdays, cook-outs, Fourth of July celebrations, Memorial Day, and so many more – and how, even when we’ve seen family, we’ve avoided those hugs that now hold so much more meaning for us.
All of this has also made us think of the senseless social media bickering and politicization of the COVID-19 virus and, frankly, every other issue to come down the pike over the last several months. It’s been going on longer than that, if we’re being truthful. For years now. But it seems like since March the rancor and the vitriol has amped up from simple annoyance and disagreement to a form of social civil war.
Maybe this is because, in the absence of sitting down for a beer or a coffee and discussing issues face-to-face, we’ve relegated our interactions to social media; a medium notorious for misunderstandings, escalation and knee-jerk responses. Maybe it’s because we don’t hear tone of voice and see body language. Maybe it’s because we feel safely insulated from the consequences of our language. Maybe it’s a bit of both, with a healthy heaping of bystanders egging us on and stirring the pot.
No matter where it comes from, it has caused rifts in families and in friendships. It’s made us forget all the wonderful things we share in common; the interests that make us friends and the ties that make us family.
As November approaches, it isn’t likely to get better. Democrat voters will be accusing Republicans of racism and misogyny, even when it’s obvious those things are not true of everyone, or even most, who lean to the right. Republicans will be accusing Democrats of being evil and godless, of supporting the rights of pedophiles and wanting to kill babies, even when those accusations have no basis in fact beyond conspiracy theories, purposely misrepresented policies, and ridiculously fallacious memes.
Yes, there are racists in this world. Probably even in our communities and in some of our families. Yes, there are pedophiles, also in our communities and in some of our families. The world can be a dark, ugly, and terrible place. A place where horrible tragedies occur.
But it can also be beautiful and inspiring, and that inspiration can come from terrible tragedies. Like the untimely death of a young man – a hero – who finds a way to take that darkness and turn it into something positive, like saving the lives of others through his wish to be an organ donor.
As we move forward, into fall, the election season, and the end of a stressful year, we are asking you – left, right, and center – to be that light in the dark.
Stop and think before you respond. Stop and think before you share. Stop and think of the people you love; of your children and grandchildren and the example you want to set for them. Stop and ask yourself if it’s worth it. If it will solve the problem or make it worse. Remind yourself of the things we share, and the things that join us together.
And when this is all over, and behind us, brothers hug your sisters. Neighbors, sit down for that cup of coffee. Classmates and friends, get together for that beer.
Remember that it can, and will, be better, and work to be part of making it so.