Moments arise when hope and despair briefly intersect. During these emotional overlaps, it’s a toss-up as to which energy will win even though we desire the best. Two recent high-profile events present the overlapping calamity often noticed in this community.
Hope through actions: The people of our county do always seem to pull together in moments of struggle. We amaze outsiders as well as ourselves with the outcome of our support for great causes and our willingness to help others in need. The recent outpouring of well wishes and determination to help Janelle Bedel in her efforts to raise awareness of mesothelioma is a fine example, but not the first time we reveal our community spirit.
Merely touching upon the past 10 or so years, we have witnessed the hope through Friends of Allie Prayer Service, which by way of circumstance brought the organization of the first county-held Relay for Life event. We have witnessed the start-up of Brian’s Cause, Alex’s Memorial Ride, and the Ashley Spurlin Memorial 5K walk/run. Throughout the year, we have numerous golf outings, motorcycle rides, and other fundraising events that are connected to our willingness to help others who, in some way, have been touched by misfortune.
Dire circumstance is not the only way we support one another. We also rally together to provide opportunity to our school children. The schools and the children receive support through kind donations from local area business. From the donations to provide supplies for school raffles to the money collected or given for scholarships, the spirit of hope and the willingness to help in various ways come shining through.
Why and how do we sustain this fine attitude? The best answer is to say that most people have basic good intentions and as a community of individuals, we want the best for one another because that helps define who we are. The next answer that fits into our small town circumstance relies on connectivity of individuals. When something happens to an individual or a family in our community, it is usually certain that we can find a person-to-person connection to the particular situation. I’ll explain by drawing upon the recent activity associated with Janelle Bedel’s awareness campaign.
I did not know this young woman personally, but I do know her in-laws. When I begin to recall all the family connections of the mother-in-law and father-in-law, I see how far-reaching this connectivity is. It’s more than connections through marriages within the larger Bedel family, but with the friends that each family member has. Truly, it’s an amazing realization how far the connection can go. With my small sampling of only using one side of the family, I find the unity in our community that binds us together and gives us that spirit of caring which then inspires hope.
Despair through words: As important as it is to remain positive on the way life is, and should be, in Rush County, there are undesirable moments that cannot disappear into thin air. With shock and disbelief, I read the articles that covered the commotion over the 4th of July parade. The following assessment has nothing at all to do with the parade route but with the words used to describe the unfortunate turn of events.
Using words like “war” to describe a difference of opinion is polarizing because it removes any likelihood that compromise is available. Is that the way we want to portray the way we conduct business in our community? Adding insult to injury for the people of this community was for the “war” statement to be carelessly dismissed as being a “throw away remark.” Can it be true that this type of thinking is within our high-profile community leadership? To be sure, in the diverse world we now live in, there is no such thing as a negligent “throw away remark” during most interactions.
When working among others, it would be a mistake to assume that everyone thinks alike and understands or processes words in the same way. An argument might be to say that words were taken out of context but an equal argument is to relay that if words offended or provoked another human being, then all, not just one party, misread/misjudged the context. Context is much more than how we intend words to be received.
It’s one thing to assume (falsely) that people of the same general area put the same meanings with slang terminology because strong historical relationships between the parties would be the determining factor there. However, it’s dangerous business practice to speak without considering the feelings of the other party and this is especially true when it is with ease that we can, and with regularity that we do, communicate with individuals from other cultures.
No, words and phrases cannot be “thrown away.” Perhaps with a little persuasive and thoughtful dialog the parties involved in the parade route disagreement can overcome the misreading of messages. That chance for repair of words may not be available to many other people who read the words. The World Wide Web carries words far beyond the borders of Rush County and you never know who may be reading of items such as the parade and then forming a negative opinion of our county.
The community spirit discussed in the first portion of this column is one of the best things the county has in her favor. The misguided ideas discussed in the second portion provide the fodder for the people of our county to appear a little behind the times.