I’m supposed to know the right words.
I’ve been stringing them together professionally for nearly a quarter-century.
But in today’s times, I just don’t know what to say about the continuing pandemic, the economic disaster, racial injustice, peaceful protests and inexcusable violence,
Perhaps more accurately, I don’t know what I can say.
I’d like to say I can see and sympathize with both sides of the debate over the pandemic: protecting the public’s health versus putting people back to work. I’ve seen the desperation of people who lost their jobs on March 17 and then waited in an hours-long line behind the local Catholic church to get boxes of food for their families.
And I’ve watched the coronavirus case count in the Keys grow since mid-March. I’ve spoken with our community’s most vulnerable residents and their loved ones who would do everything in their power to protect them.
But I can’t say any of that, certainly not on any social media forums.
Someone may have the best of neutral and empathetic intentions when they say, “I can see both sides of the reopening question. I can’t imagine losing both incomes overnight. This is as much an economic disaster as a health crisis.”
That may be what they say, write or type, but it’s not what some people see, read or hear.
Nope. In those people’s minds, anyone who was eager for visitors to return to the Keys wanted their friends and neighbors to die of the virus.
It’s impossible to say anything without setting someone off these days, however innocuous our comments are meant to be. They’ll be misconstrued, misinterpreted and used against us in the court of public opinion.
If today’s current events have taught us anything, it’s that for some, ignorance is chronic and incurable.
I’ve learned a few other lessons in the past four months that I’ll value forever:
I’ve learned how obnoxiously some people assert their First Amendment right to speak their mind and post uninformed and irresponsible conspiracy theories on MY Facebook page.
Perhaps not surprisingly, that lesson quickly led to another: I learned how pissy that person gets upon learning they’ve been blocked — from MY page.
On a lighter note, I’ve also learned:
That I should have learned to sew, cook and paint long before this pandemic.
That it’s possible to “lose” a remote control more than seven times during a single recorded hour of programming.
And finally, I’ve truly learned how much good a community newspaper can do for its community when it adapts quickly, transparently and with solid leadership to a rapidly changing world. All my thanks to our leaders, Britt Myers and Jason Koler, and to every one of my colleagues here at Keys Weekly. You make me proud to be a part of everything we do.
(Although I’m sure someone will misinterpret those words….)