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Friday Report ~ July 24, 2015

It’s worth a try -I was having a pretty good day. I had enjoyed a relaxing weekend, with a touch of community support for Gardiner thrown in and the rain had stopped leaving a gorgeous sunny Monday morning. Zac Brown Band was playing on the radio and I was reviewing my emails when the day turned south. We received an email that the Governor had directed flags to half-staff in honor of the Marine and Navy service members killed in Chattanooga.

Lowering a flag for a service person is not something I take lightly. There was no pomp and ceremony, just a guy in a suit lowering our nation’s flag to honor the departed. I spent a moment reflecting on the incident and the frequency with which this seems to be happening in our nation lately. As much as I felt for the soldiers and sailor, every senseless death is a tragedy. This no more so than the others in the past year.

What is bothering me the most, if I may take a minute of your time, is the press and the political maneuvering following an event like this. The news channels scramble to put out the latest news first – often getting their breaking news wrong. In the days following the Chattanooga shooting I heard that there was a female sailor in surgery. I still can’t discern if this was true or not. The
various political causes all gather around microphones to say “We need stronger gun control laws,” or “We need to arm the soldiers,” and the politicians tap dance that fine line on camera trying desperately not to offend a single voter from their “base”. All the while, all parties are waiting to hear if it is called “terrorism” or “workplace violence” so they can use this info to support their cause.

If I can be honest, this is all driving me nuts. I can’t decide if we should melt all the guns down or hand them out for free. There is no magic solution. People in this world are capable of tremendous love and incredible hatred. If someone wants to inflict pain and harm on another, they will find a way. Maybe the solution is to simply be nicer to each other. I know, it sounds too good to be true but let’s look at that for just a minute.

I am not suggesting we try to go back to the 70’s “peace and love” movement and start singing “Kumbaya” but the reality is this. We are not born with prejudice, it is taught. Learning to judge a nation, race, religion or gender is something we get from our experiences as a very young child. We could get it from our parents, our churches or our community. These prejudices carry into the workplace and are evident in bullying, selective promotions, and daily workings of every company. We have layers and layers of laws to try to prevent this, yet it still happens.

On Wednesday, we had an after hours at the Red Barn. Laura Benedict, owner, spoke at length about her desire to help others. It was refreshing. As I had already started working on this blog, I thought for a minute about how we can change the status quo at the local level. We all have differences, but what if we put a little extra time into each day to try to help one another. What if we watched which prejudices we passed on to our children? What if we took our head out of our
cell phone and said, “Hi”, to the stranger on the street? My father-in-law attended the event Wednesday and commented on what a friendly group of people it was. He’s right.

So I challenge you each to reflect on what prejudices you may have. Look at them with a rational view and try to find a way to see that group in a better light. Share this new viewpoint with your children and let’s try to create a generation that is simply nicer to each other. It’ll take a while, but it’s worth a try. Thanks.