Saturday, when I went to the post office to pick up my mail, I found a postcard from a regular reader of this column with a sweet message of thanks. “Knowing there are people like me in our conservative area has kept me here for decades,” she wrote. And right there, in the middle of the crosswalk on Honolulu, I jumped for joy. Not only is she not alone, thanks to her note I know I’m not alone either.
One of the purposes of writing this column is simply that: to identify and reinforce the side of political debates in this region that prefers to stay hidden, feeling itself in the minority. It’s taking the opportunity afforded by this paper (at some cost, I should note) to express another view than that traditionally provided by the Farm Bureau or the Chamber of Commerce—from around the left corner of the buildings of our society instead of from behind the right corner.
Another reason for writing this column is to solicit your responses, which people sometimes do in letters to the editor (always welcome no matter what corner they come from, minus the expletives). Sometimes the letters come to me directly. Back in June I got a beautiful letter from a woman near Woodlake after I’d let loose my flood of grief from the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas.
She, too, was still in pain, and not just for the children and teachers, the parents and families, the whole community of that small town. “What kind of sickness has taken us that our young men feel powerless?” she wrote. I think that’s an important question we haven’t addressed from either corner. As part of her response, she submitted the Godlessness of our society and the emergence of video games. She quoted another writer who had hit it on the mark: our youth now have “unlimited hours of simulator training. Today’s young murderers have spent years playing first-person-shooter games. They become inured to shooting an image of a human being and addicted to the adrenaline rush.” Summing it up, she wrote “So now we have a lack of empathy, a need for an adrenaline rush and a feeling of powerlessness—a formula for mass shootings.”
Her letter was more profound than my column. But for me, hearing her grief shared with mine helped heal part of my pain. And from that one letter I also experienced a new hope for this column: to work toward the idea that not only are we not alone but that we are all in this together.
Carole King wrote a song by that title, with words written by one of her favorite lyricists, David Palmer. She sang it on her album “Wrap Around Joy” that came out in 1974—one of my favorites from young womanhood. The song is a hymn, really, an anthem for our country—and any other around the world. If you’ve heard the song, what follows will mean more, but I offer these words as a stimulus to check it out on YouTube. The song opens with this clear image from that rancorous time:
“The just are seeking justice / The meek are reaching out / For something only children / Can really know about.”
The third verse carries us further: “And we all need forgiving / for all the damage done; / For the things we do not thinking; / For the hurt that we’ve caused someone.”
The chorus says it all: “We are all in this together / And maybe we’ll see that someday / When we conquer our fear together / When we finally find a way.”
“When we conquer our fear together”—how perfect, a human path to the biblical injunction found in both Testaments to “fear not.” We would be a less Godless society if we did.
Sometimes it pays to sing to the choir. Maybe we should join up, put on our robes, and hit the road singing—or at least making a joyful noise.
Trudy Wischemann is a rusty alto who writes. You can send her your favorite songs and deepest concerns c/o P.O. Box 1374, Lindsay CA 93247.
This column is not a news article but the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of The Sun-Gazette newspaper.