It’s time for sol­i­dar­ity!

The Times (Northeast Benton County) - - OPINION - Editor’s note: An­nette Beard is the man­ag­ing editor of The Times of North­east Ben­ton County. A na­tive of Louisiana, she moved to north­west Arkansas in 1980 to work for the Ben­ton County Daily Record. She can be reached at abeard@

The TIMES goes to press at noon on Tues­days so the elec­tion re­sults will be in the Nov. 14 edi­tion of the pa­per, not the Nov. 7 edi­tion.

Area res­i­dents will know the re­sults of the lo­cal elec­tions thanks to both the daily news­pa­per on Wed­nes­day and var­i­ous forms of me­dia in­clud­ing tele­vi­sion and so­cial me­dia.

Re­cently, nearly ev­ery where I go, I hear: “I can’t wait for the elec­tions to be over.”

In nearly 40 years of ob­serv­ing and cov­er­ing elec­tions in north­west Arkansas, I have never seen such caus­tic, vit­ri­olic, ma­li­cious, hate­ful com­ments con­nected to cam­paigns as I have in our city these past few months.

The com­ments, at least from what I’ve seen, are not com­ing from the can­di­dates but from peo­ple sup­port­ing them. Some of those peo­ple do not live in­side the city lim­its and there­fore can not vote, but they seem to feel qual­i­fied to cast as­pi­ra­tions on oth­ers.

In­ter­est­ingly, liv­ing in a small com­mu­nity, we can of­ten pat our­selves on the back that we’re not af­fected by the hate­ful­ness of­ten seen in state or na­tional cam­paigns. We brag that we have a lov­ing, sup­port­ive com­mu­nity. And, we do. But, some of the seed­ier side has been re­vealed over the past few months.

Iron­i­cally, I’ve read so­cial me­dia posts from peo­ple who blame the “other side” for be­ing hate­ful and dis­parag­ing while them­selves be­ing dis­re­spect­ful and mean.

So­cial me­dia plat­forms have changed how peo­ple com­mu­ni­cate in this era, but it doesn’t re­ally change peo­ples’ hearts. What may have been whis­pered be­hind closed doors or pos­si­bly with a close friend at a cof­fee shop is now blasted across so­cial me­dia and is more vis­i­ble to more peo­ple. All peo­ple are a com­pos­ite of good and bad. We all have ca­pa­bil­i­ties of both.

Re­gard­less of the out­come of this elec­tion, it ap­pears some dam­age has been done that may be ir­repara­ble.

It’s been said that we should be able to dis­agree agree­ably. But that hasn’t been the case in many cam­paign sit­u­a­tions lately.

When peo­ple re­sort to yelling, name call­ing, in­ter­rupt­ing and de­mean­ing be­hav­ior, they re­veal their own char­ac­ter.

Nu­mer­ous times, I’ve been at an event and then later heard or read peo­ple’s re­ports of the events and found them to vary vastly from what I ob­served.

In Scrip­ture, we read: “The one who states his case first seems right, un­til the other comes and ex­am­ines him.” Proverbs 18:17.

“Con­sider the source” is an old adage that is per­ti­nent. Just be­cause some­one says some­thing or writes some­thing, just be­cause some­thing is posted on so­cial me­dia, doesn’t make it fact. Say­ing some­thing is a “fact” doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily make it a fact.

Some of the is­sues be­ing con­tested on so­cial me­dia have had the facts as re­ceived from City Hall pub­lished in the news­pa­per over the past year. The bud­get has been pub­lished. City em­ploy­ees’ salaries have been pub­lished. The city’s and school’s fi­nan­cials are pub­lished an­nu­ally in the le­gal sec­tion of the news­pa­per.

The Free­dom of In­for­ma­tion Act adopted by the state of Arkansas is pro­vided for any­one (not just mem­bers of the press) to ob­tain pub­lic records. If a per­son truly wants to know, the resources are there. The law pro­vides for ac­cess of all pub­lic records.

Re­gard­less of the out­come of this elec­tion, we should for­give those who’ve been hate­ful and un­kind and strive to work to­gether for the bet­ter­ment of our com­mu­nity.

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