Our thoughts Em­brace all of Democ­racy

The Covington News - - OPINION -

Win­ston Churchill once said “Democ­racy is the worst form of gov­ern­ment, ex­cept all the oth­ers.”

We in New­ton County have seen this in stark re­al­ity this week.

This week started with the pub­lic in­vited to speak their minds about a pro­posed mosque com­ing to New­ton County. Lo­cal, re­gional and na­tional news me­dia de­scended on the New­ton County His­toric Court­house and re­ported on that meet­ing. All-in-all there were no big is­sues, no ar­rests, no one hurt.

Cit­i­zens spoke their mind, some had ques­tions about traf­fic, some had ques­tions about the new cul­ture com­ing into our com­mu­nity, oth­ers spoke about fears that have de­vel­oped in a coun­try that saw two air­lin­ers crash into the World Trade Cen­ter and oth­ers spoke of a na­tion of un­der­stand­ing and har­mony.

Those are the sen­ti­ments we are ea­ger to hear about, and hoped our com­mis­sion­ers were ea­ger to hear about. Four of the five com­mis­sion­ers were present at Mon­day’s town hall along with the Chair to hear the pub­lic’s con­cerns. The miss­ing com­mis­sioner no­ti­fied the me­dia and elected of­fi­cials of his rea­son­ing for not at­tend­ing. Again, that is his right, both as a cit­i­zen but also as an elected of­fi­cial.

The fol­low­ing day, the Chair ac­cused that miss­ing com­mis­sioner and an­other of black­mail which was in part a cause for lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. The next day, a state­ment from the dis­trict at­tor­ney in­di­cated that the ac­cu­sa­tion of black­mail was un­war­ranted as a crim­i­nal act by FBI def­i­ni­tions.

Two days later the may­ors of our com­mu­nity wrote a let­ter to county of­fi­cials stat­ing loud and clear that they were em­bar­rassed by their lead­er­ship. This has been a very dif­fi­cult week for our com­mu­nity. It seems like ev­ery­one is push­ing their own agenda and wait­ing for someone to slip up so a win­ner can be de­clared. De­spite what it may feel like, this is not a re­al­ity TV show. No one will win this game. In fact, both the play­ers and spec­ta­tors can lose. This is our com­mu­nity. We can­not let our­selves get caught in the back and forth, not on the is­sues of free­dom of religion, free­dom of speech and our own personal rights. That is the bedrock this na­tion is founded on. It is a na­tion that prides it­self on its mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism, its adapt­abil­ity, and its demo­cratic process. We also live in a re­gion that prides it­self on its South­ern Hospi­tal­ity.

So for the love of this com­mu­nity and this na­tion, let’s find a way to re­mem­ber that and come to­gether. To move past point­ing fin­gers and throw­ing stones.

Cit­i­zens have voiced their opin­ions. Elected of­fi­cials have made their state­ments. We live in a com­mu­nity where our neigh­bors’ opin­ions still mat­ter. We live in a coun­try where Free­dom of Speech is still a con­sti­tu­tional right.

Such rights and priv­i­leges should not be squan­dered nor ig­nored. Yes, Churchill was cor­rect in as­sert­ing that democ­racy was dif­fi­cult. But such rights and priv­i­leges do not as­sure the right to be un­civil.

No mat­ter when side of which de­bate you fall on, the ques­tion is what is next.

What is next for our cit­i­zens as they try to find a con­struc­tive out­let for their frus­tra­tions? What is next for our elected of­fi­cials as they work to­ward up­hold­ing our civil lib­er­ties and set­ting pol­icy and prece­dents for our com­mu­nity? What is next?

Chal­lenge is upon us and how we rise to that chal­lenge will de­fine us … to­day and to­mor­row.

His­tory proves that finest hours come af­ter the dark­est days. We have had some dark days in New­ton County re­cently. There are likely more to come.

We should not lose sight that the sun will rise in the east and set in the west again tom­mor­row.

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