Speak up and be heard
It has been written in this space before that journalism does not tell people what to think, but what to think about. In March, we asked you to think about the importance of SPLOST in Newton County. Now, it’s time to ask you to consider the importance of civil discourse in trying to make our community better.
Over the last few months, there has been a coarsening in the language used by some who disagree with the county’s leaders. Many people who comment on The Covington News’ online stories via social media express why they disagree with a policy decision as is their right. But they also attack the integrity of the leaders making those decisions, often accusing them of criminal activity.
This should stop. There was a time when public conversation about politics and politicians involved good people discussing ideas and ideals for making their communities better. Those conversations have lately taken a backseat to those who, secure behind their computer screens, seem content to attack those actually trying to make a difference for all of us.
U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt addressed this phenomenon in a speech at the Sorbonne in Paris, France in 1910. In the speech, entitled “Citizenship in a Republic,” Roosevelt discussed those content to sit on the outside and snipe at those trying to make a difference.
“It is not the critic who counts,” he said, “not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood: who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who never know victory nor defeat.”
If you have ideas that will make our community better, get involved, attend meetings, speak up during public comment, run for office, do something constructive. In the meantime, let’s discuss ideas, not personalities. We all should want the same thing, a better Newton County. And while good people can agree to disagree, we should never let it get personal. We, as a community, deserve better than that.