I’ve been spending a lot of time these days, home alone, healing, laying down, healing, watching TV, healing, watching YouTube videos on foraging in the woods, weeds you can eat (Did you know you can make coffee from dandelion roots? Neither did I!), healing, not sleeping so well and because of that, thinking.
If knee surgery is good for anything it’s good for finding time to think.
I also watched a couple of local government meetings online.
One meeting stood out and made me think some more. I watched a special meeting of the Oxford Village Council last week – not because I find local government meetings fun to watch, but because it’s part of my job. It was a meeting that really took a left turn right out of the gate, as councilwoman Ashley Ross admitted during the meeting. She had told her family that she would be home soon, it would be a short meeting. After all, there were really only two items council needed to vote on – approving two requests to use downtown’s Centennial Park. Also, on the agenda however was that pesky little item called “Public Comments.” And, what ensued was over an hour of heartfelt commentary about the United States Constitution’s First and Second amendments.
You see, request one was from Oxford High School student Dylan Morris. Morris is also executive director of No Future Without Today, a national youth-led 501(c)(4) initiative which advocates “for the safety of students through sensible gun reform, promote civic instruction, and immerse students through advocacy.” Morris wanted to use (and did) the park for a rally on the following Saturday.
This brought out many people from the community, retired law enforcement types, a Vietnam veteran, men and women from an older generation weary of gun control as well as students and parents wishing to express their freedom to speak and peacefully assemble.
I watched the meeting unfold, as person after person spoke and then I went online and read social media commentary about the meeting.
As the impartial observer, I don’t think either side was really listening to the other. Students thought the older folks were talking down to them. Their parents spoke up saying let our kids do what they want. The older folks said while they agreed the students could meet, they warned about the national group the local students hooked up with. The national group (March for our Lives) is a well known gun control advocate group wanting a just and equitable existence against an “armed supremacy.” Some would most likely call this group a “woke” group.
I don’t think the older folks were talking down to the students, even if they used the word “kids.” They were not dismissing the students’ feelings. Heck, one guy was a Vietnam veteran who told the students, “You who were there (at the high school when the shooting and killing went down), you are now combat veterans.” The older folks do what older folks do, the urge caution and not to hurry into things. “Step back. Let us all get together and talk.”
Parents of the students reminded the older folks, that when they were young their generation also had marches and sit-ins in protests of their day. “Our kids deserve the same right.”
And, the students just wanted to have their say their way – as younger folks always do, they do not want to be told what to do.
So, the more things change in our times, really the more they are the same. Folks just want to hear what they want to hear, they do not like to be challenged. I would love to have these two groups get together, throw politics aside and address the issue of violence, respect of and for life and yes, guns. If we are to be honest with each other, both sides bring value to the table. Experience, wisdom and energy and emotion. Start small. Work on our community, work on what can be better here before trying to solve world issues. We can lift each other up and we don’t need to knock one another down.
After a couple of hours of commentary Council eventually gave the kids their day in the park and those who spoke out against stated they would stage a counter rally.
Oh, and the other agenda item, for a church to use the park later in the summer was passed by council in about 3.2 nano seconds and without fanfare. Then, Councilwoman Ross was able to return to her home and family – if not a little late.