It is hard to figure where to start. These are certainly unusual times we are living through, so unusual that I’m still trying to untangle all my thoughts. But while I am somewhat uncertain about some things, I am certain how I feel about others.
Maybe a good place to start is the COVID-19 pandemic, where this whole mess began. Well, not really, but maybe it was the impetus for much that has happened recently.
It is one of the topics I’m unsure of. In the beginning, I was all about taking all the precautions and being as safe as possible. I suppose I was afraid of the unknown. Much is still unknown. But I have gone to work every day throughout the pandemic, and while I still believe some precaution is probably a good thing, I grew tired of the all the restrictions long ago. I have never wore a mask, and likely never will, unless I have to, or the pandemic grows much worse than it currently is.
Being an old sports writer, you’d think I would have missed sports by now. But really, I haven’t. Oh, there have been a couple Saturdays I wouldn’t have minded setting down and watching a good game. But I found other activities that suit me just as well. Sitting around a nice fire in good company is one of them.
So here’s what I really think. Some precaution is a good thing. But I refuse to let precaution or a virus rule my life.
Then there is the George Ford thing. If you need an explanation, you must be living in a cave hiding from the virus.
It is fact that Mr. Floyd would never have been pleading for his life if his own actions had not landed him in the situation that resulted in his death. But, by no means whatsoever does that excuse an officer for kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes, literally choking the life out of him.
It is hard for me to comprehend how someone sworn to protect the public could do such a thing. Or how others could stand by and let it happen. Similar incidents have happened way too often, for generations. They continue to happen. Why? And why have so many of us stood silent for so long?
Many decided not stay silent, even right here in Hillsboro. I applaud them. Thankfully, the Black Lives Matter protest in our little town a couple weeks ago was done well. The protesters maintained their composure, the city of Hillsboro took the proper precautions, and it all turned out quite well.
There were some shallow individuals who thought it would be a good idea fly a Confederate flag while driving past the protesters. But they were few, and really, they have just as much right to state their opinion as anyone else.
In other places similar protests have been far from peaceful. Rioting, looting and killing are not the answer. But on the other hand, if those things had not happened, we would be seeing the change were are seeing?
We have seen a race that has long been oppressed stand up, joined by many from many other races, and make their voices heard. Change is unfolding. That is good. It is long overdue.
But good things can go too far. One of the ideas developed from the protests is to defund police. Really people? Are you ready for the days of wild wild West — where those with the most money and the most guns make all the rules?
And why is it just police all these people are screaming about? Do they not know that we have sheriff’s deputies, state troopers, marshals, wildlife officers and more enforcing the laws in our country? Police are not the only ones that have made mistakes.
But while there a few bad law enforcement officers, the vast majority of them are good. They work a dangerous job — that’s getting more dangerous by the day — for little pay. They are the men and women that have wanted to serve and protect since they were little kids. They are the same people that ran into the burning buildings on Sept. 11, 2001, when everyone else was running away. They perform similar acts all across the country every day.
Good and bad can be found everywhere. It has always been that way. It always will. Just like even the most well intentioned person makes mistakes from time to time.
Once upon a time I thought I had most things figured out. Now I find myself looking for answers.
I am not asking anyone to agree with anything I have said. We will all never agree on all things. That is just human nature. But we can be willing to listen and open our minds to other points of view.
And if we listen, we just might find the answers.
Jeff Gilliland is the editor of The Times-Gazette. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 937-402-2522.