Our thoughts Post-elec­tion thoughts

The Covington News - - OPINION - The Cov­ing­ton News’

Tues­day’s elec­tion of Don­ald Trump as the Pres­i­dent of the United States gripped the na­tion.

In Newton County Wed­nes­day, specif­i­cally at Al­covy High School, many stu­dents were more than gripped by the Pres­i­den­tial Elec­tion re­sults. They were di­vided.

A video sur­faced on so­cial me­dia of stu­dents shout­ing at one an­other, swear­ing, show­ing their mid­dle fin­gers. Two groups stood on ei­ther side of the com­mon area and one stu­dent ap­peared to throw some­thing.

The video was taken via a stu­dent’s cell phone and with a tap of the share but­ton, pan­de­mo­nium en­sued. Calls were made to the high school, school board, sher­iff’s of­fice, lo­cal news­pa­pers and At­lanta tele­vi­sion sta­tions that a riot was tak­ing place at Al­covy.

The video picked up mo­men­tum on Face­book, and word of weapons, van­dal­ism and at­tacks spread. Hun­dreds of stu­dents were checked out of school early.

We are dis­mayed that stu­dents felt that this was an ac­cept­able re­sponse. Stand­ing across a room, scream­ing at each other, is never the an­swer. For any­thing. At any age.

We are equally dis­mayed that adults per­pet­u­ated the prob­lem via so­cial me­dia, lead­ing to fear of the un­known. Over­valu­ing of the au­thor­ity of so­cial me­dia above that of of­fi­cial agen­cies led to fur­ther­ing the level of fear.

We as a com­mu­nity need to be a sup­port sys­tem for our young peo­ple. Our stu­dents need an out­let, other than so­cial me­dia, to learn and re­spond. And they need role mod­els to show them the way.

For those stu­dents who were ig­no­rant or mis­in­formed of some of the is­sues, par­ents, teach­ers and even this news­pa­per should have pro­vided that in­for­ma­tion. Our younger gen­er­a­tions should be en­gaged more in the de­ci­sions that af­fect this na­tion and this com­mu­nity, such as

Next Gen­er­a­tion Can­di­date Fo­rum that was held be­fore the pri­mary in March.

Our stu­dents must also learn how to en­gage in con­ver­sa­tion about dif­fi­cult top­ics. In to­day’s world, it is way too easy to say any­thing with­out see­ing the face of some­one who thinks dif­fer­ently. If that face-to-face en­gage­ment takes place, then the young peo­ple of our com­mu­nity may come to un­der­stand that peo­ple who think dif­fer­ently are not their ene­mies.

That face-to-face en­gage­ment should also take place with our cit­i­zens and teach­ers, school sys­tem staff and other of­fi­cials. We, as a com­mu­nity, need to get to the point where we can value the trust of our in­sti­tu­tions, those that are in place to pro­vide ba­sic needs for us and our fam­i­lies, over our fol­low­ers and friends we have never met in per­son.

For those who en­gaged in so­cial me­dia with­out be­ing on cam­pus that day, they ran the risk of be­com­ing gos­sips. Gos­sip can lead to fear.

Fear is more eas­ily spread now than ever. It just takes reach­ing into your pocket and tap­ping a few but­tons. From there, peo­ple watch the num­bers of friends and fol­low­ers grow, ea­ger to gain more com­ments and fan the flames. In some cases, more likes and shares on so­cial me­dia means more in­ac­cu­ra­cies, more ru­mors, more fear. But such be­hav­ior is no bet­ter than scream­ing at oth­ers from across the room.

Through­out the last two years, “fear” has been a com­mon word used by the me­dia. As the Pres­i­den­tial elec­tion got closer, more ha­tred and di­vi­sive­ness came out.

Now the bal­lots have been cast and counted. De­cid­ing on how to re­act to the elec­tion is now in the past – the de­ci­sion is re­ally how we re­spond to our fu­ture.

For what to do next, we’ll leave you with the words of TNT’s In­side the NBA host Ernie John­son. Dur­ing the NBA show’s tele­cast Wed­nes­day, he de­clared he wanted to be a part of fix­ing the wounds of a di­vided coun­try.

“For me to be a part of it I have to look into the mir­ror. How am I go­ing to be a bet­ter man? How am I go­ing to be a bet­ter neigh­bor? How am I go­ing to be a bet­ter cit­i­zen? How am I go­ing to be a bet­ter Amer­i­can?” John­son said. “How can I be a foun­tain and not a drain?”

We chal­lenge you to con­sider these ques­tions care­fully. Be­cause make no mis­take, this is our shared, col­lec­tive fu­ture, Newton County, and the de­ci­sion is up to us.

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