Passion can be a wonderful thing. Finding a mate, the perfect job, that one great hobby, a commitment to a cause: all of these things can bring out positive passions that not only benefit us as individuals, but can contribute to the world around us as well. Passion can also be a terrible thing. Being so engulfed and committed to a person or cause can lead to disastrous results when our desires take control over our brains. The past few months, many of us have noticed enflamed passions. I say passions instead of emotions, because in the normal world, emotions can be controlled, often passions cannot.
Fueled a great deal by the pandemic, it seems everyone is angry these days. I have friends I have known for decades, whom I never had any idea about their politics, nor cared; who have suddenly come out breathing fire and brimstone about their political beliefs. I am stunned. The number of people who want to lock up or fire anyone who disagree with their stated beliefs is mind boggling. Was all the talk about freedom just talk?
For months we have watched as one angry mob after another has taken on causes and protested and caused mayhem in ways virtually unseen in the past five decades. Sadly, the events in Washington, D.C. last week further exemplified what happens when passions take over common decency. I am from the old school of thinking: next to churches, our historical, cultural and political establishments and buildings are the most sacred things in the world. I have had three opportunities to tour the U.S. Capitol building. Each time I have come away with an even greater sense of awe with the magnitude of what the building is and represents. Walking through the White House was even more inspiring, realizing what the building and its historical inhabitants have meant to this country. Watching angry mobs storm the Capitol building seems almost surreal to me, but given some of the scenes from movies and video games, I almost wonder if people have lost their grips on reality versus fiction.
Watching the whole episode play out on the TV screen, I was dumbfounded. I am not even really sure how to properly address what happened. I have seen some media outlets describe the events as “a siege,” others as “a riot,” and others a protest which got out of hand. I wasn’t there, I don’t know what to call it. All I know is in the past, no matter what the disagreement, at the end of the day we were all Americans and could rally around the flag, the constitution and our democracy. Now, that seems so quaint and naïve. It has become an all or nothing, with me or against my country. Our passions are totally misdirected.
During the past few days, a common question came my way: what are we as a newspaper going to say about it? The question has perplexed me all week. We had thought about finding local connections to the events, but partisan passions being what they are, I wasn’t sure what would be served by telling one story or another.
Next came the letters, lots of letters. While we want and encourage letters to the editor, we as the publishers have to decide are these letters newsworthy, are they meant to inform and engage? Or are they simply the writer’s attempt to vent, bully and make accusations which quite likely will offend others?
If we are discussing local issues, my opinion would be different. But angry accusations about national events is not really what we have in mind. I assume most of these writers have no more access to “facts” than I do. What they do have are opinions. Unlike sites on the Internet, where the reader can choose their political bent and flaming is encouraged, we work to represent all of our readers with respect. We are at all times responsible for what we print and we have chosen to decline the recent letters.
On a much different topic, attending the Adrian Board of Aldermen meeting Monday night was very difficult as the board was informed the Adrian Manor was broke and would likely be closed later this month. It was difficult, because one could feel the passions of the administrators and employees who were on hand hoping to find a last-minute miracle to save the community landmark. There was a deep passion, but no solution. The tears in the room were real. COVID has claimed yet another victim.
Please wear a mask.