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From the Publisher’s Desk – America shows ‘signs’ of the times

By Keith Whitson

I always dread approaching a traffic light turning red and see someone on the side of the road holding a sign. Maybe they are seeking money or work or trying to get to a certain destination. I never know until I read the sign and then see the pleading look in their face.

I am unsure whether they are sincere or not. I have given money before and felt good in doing so. I have also sensed deceit in individuals. Once I witnessed someone finishing a “shift” of begging and then lowering his sign, going over to the parking lot across the street, and getting in his car.

As Americans we have the right to wave signs of many kinds and to freely express ourselves. Sometimes it is for causes we support and sometimes against issues we don’t.

Saturday I witnessed such an expression. I was in Johnson City, stopped at a traffic light, and saw a man to my right with his shirt pulled up over his large belly. He was waving a sign with the words “Fat Lives Matter.” He seemed to really be enjoying himself as he danced around with a big grin while waving his sign high in the air.

From that, I noticed more signs and a much larger crowd across the street. This crowd was a mix of caucasian and African Americans. Their signs read “Black Lives Matter.” They were chanting to the motorists passing by as they rang out their message and waved their signs high in the air.

It was then that I noticed one more group, just down the street from the larger crowd. With a slight division of approximately 25 feet, this group held signs declaring “All Lives Matter.”

It really took me by surprise that Johnson City would find the need for such expression. Larger cities might see discrimination but I wouldn’t expect it so much around here. It amazes me how sensitive we are these days. Will we ever be able to drop the whole race idea and be people? Is anyone truly black or truly white? Surely by now we are so mixed from generation after generation that there are very few pure genes. And, why does the tone of skin color matter about what is inside?

It’s really sad to see all of the hatred and killings that have happened recently in America. I don’t know that protesting is the answer and I don’t know what ideas need protesting or supporting the most.

It’s like our next choice for President of the U.S. – deciding which is the lesser of two evils. I, personally, don’t see things getting better with either one. I just hope things don’t get worse. Our governments are like most things in America – divided. We have it with Republicans and Democrats. It seems lots of times they work so totally against each other that they can’t come together for the good of the people they represent.

We all have our little differences that we can overlook with each other but then there are the bigger issues. We are so easily offended and so easily mislead. We have the right to free speech and we use it with little regard for consequences and or in collecting the true facts.

It amazes me to track the Website and Facebook page for The Erwin Record and see how quickly comments start. I’ve watched remarks come immediately from an article we post. Some have read the article, while others make a wrong assumption of the contents, post a comment and get the tables turned, with responses from others going down the same wrong path.

Have you ever played the game of sitting in a circle and whispering something in the ear of the person beside you? They must then whisper the same story to the one beside them and it continues all the way around.
By the time it gets back to the original person it can be quite funny how much it has changed in just that brief time. It seems something is added or left out each time it is retold.

All along, our issues and our divisions become greater, sometimes from misleading information. After I got back to Erwin Saturday, I heard that the Johnson City protest was due to Chic-fil-A giving area policemen a free meal. Later, I heard that wasn’t the case at all, but a rumor that got started. To me it was just another example of how things become twisted from the truth and reactions taken for the wrong reason.

I tried to find some facts on the Internet. Cops killed nearly twice as many whites as blacks in 2015. According to data compiled by The Washington Post, 50 percent of the victims of fatal police shootings were white, while 26 percent were black. The majority of these victims had a gun or “were armed or otherwise threatening the officer with potentially lethal force.”

I know there are policemen that have a power ego and some racist, but I know there are many, many more who are there for the right reason. They are putting their lives in danger everyday on the job.

I don’t want to find myself in need of a policeman because an intruder is breaking in my home, have him or her show up and say “Sorry, black lives matter and you’re white.”

Let’s do our best by all those we come in contact with and try to find some common ground to focus on. After all, Jesus died to take away division of Jew and Gentile. He loves everyone. Shouldn’t we?