Archived Story

Tragedies remind us of priorities

Published 10:04am Friday, April 19, 2013

There are no Democrats or Republicans — when terrorists attack Americans.

I grew up on a family farm where we all worked together to grow our crops every day in the summer season from sunup to sunset. It was a good life.

The nearest town to us was Rogers, Ohio, with a population of 400, one gas station/grocery, one barber and three churches. It was Mayberry with fewer people.

In Rogers everyone knew everyone else and, mostly, everyone else’s business. As a teenager when I got a fill-up of gas, which was pumped by Bill Cowan the owner, Bill might well say to me that I was on my second tank that week and where did I think I needed to go with so much gas.

If I did something wrong, like getting a ticket for speeding, it was news in Rogers and people would tease me about my “lead foot” on the gas pedal.

And that worked to monitor my behavior because I knew I was responsible for everything I did or did not do, and others would make sure I took the blame when I needed to do just that.

I also knew that my family’s reputation was impacted by what I did. At that time families were known by their occupation, so while there were several folks with our last name in the community, we were the “Berry Farmers” and you introduced yourself that way.

Now if some member of your family had disgraced themselves in the past, even the remote past, it was remembered and added by folks to the family identification.

For example, the Smiths might be the tractor family who sold farm equipment but had that aunt that ran around on her husband and got divorced. That would hang on the family name for a very long time.

It might sound unfair, but the truth was it made us all, individually and together, responsible to each other and to the community.

Over my lifetime many communities have gotten too big to have that kind of social structure, but, on occasion, we do still have moments when Americans are responsible to themselves and to each other not out of necessity, but out of desire and conviction.

When 9/11 occurred we all remember that some many people ran towards the disaster rather than away from it. And many first responders not only risked their own lives, some paid with the loss of their life or with health complications from the particles in the air that day.

Likewise, in Boston this week the most amazing thing about the horrific events and the video of it was the immediate rushing into danger by so many people. Not just law enforcement, but regular people, injured people, people bleeding but ignoring their own injury to help someone else.

Americans still run towards each other when the smart thing would be to run away. It is part of the character of our people.

And while Republicans and Democrats have made the nation virtually ungovernable with their petty disputes in congress, there were no Republicans or Democrats on the street in Boston this week, just Americans rushing to help one another.

Sometimes the people remind us, the everyday people that it is in our nature to do the right thing with no other purpose than that.

No single act will or can move congress from its submission to special interests and its willful ignoring of the wishes of the people. But they should take the lesson of Boston and move to help, not hurt, the nation.

Enough is enough. Live up to the virtues of the people you serve.


Jim Crawford is a retired educator and political enthusiast living here in the Tri-State.


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