When we started this online news venture two years ago, our mission was straightforward and rooted in basic principles: keep residents informed about happenings big and small, hold elected officials accountable, and strengthen our community. With a commitment to fair and transparent journalism, we embarked on bringing Piedmont and all its civic and social activities online and available to everyone with an internet connection.
Since March, this mission has taken on greater urgency, as we necessarily expanded to include documenting how a global public health crisis and social unrest are impacting our small city and our larger world. We have hoped to help readers and citizens navigate this new (not so) normal.
With the events of the past five months, the very fabric of our world has been torn and so many of the predictable things that have bound our community together — neighbors, schools, sports, parks, gatherings, parades, even our community history — feel profoundly changed and unrecognizable.
The school district’s decision-making process around reopening schools generated anger and shaming on social media. Social gatherings led to an uptick of local coronavirus cases, and recriminations followed. Most recently, social media has exploded with accusations of sexual harassment and accounts of racism in the school community — and racism in the broader community that’s entwined with Piedmont’s history. Presumably coherence and stability await us again sometime in the future — but when exactly, we simply do not know.
And this uncertainty — are we going to be OK, and when and how does life proceed in the meantime, without school and work and family and community as we know it — is very difficult to bear. As we watch events unfold over managing these losses, it is clear that our community is struggling.
We should all remember that even our oldest and most cherished traditions were once new. Change brings opportunity to reaffirm the things we stand for. The spirit of community engagement and civic responsibility which Piedmont so prides itself must transform itself to meet the current moment. We are at war with a virus, not one another.
We should instead focus on the most important issues at hand: keeping our families and community safe, taking care of our neighbors (broadly defined) and ourselves, giving our children the best education possible (even if online), and setting an example to them and others by appealing to our better selves in the process. Honest conversations about who we are and how we can be better must take place. Let’s be curious and follow where empathy leads us. It is our shared responsibility and sacrifice that will be key to getting through and recovering from this difficult period.
What do we owe each other? Kindness, empathy, honesty, respectful discourse. And safety.
Fasten your seatbelt, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. Let’s be good to each other on the way.