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Let’s be better, together

By Kathy Reagan Young

I was in a Western Branch retail store the other day, and the woman checking out in front of me was talking to two other women. “Kids these days are so rude. They don’t know a thing about etiquette or even how to be kind.” I spoke up and said, “They don’t have very good role models right now.”

The ladies agreed with my premise that there seems to be an overabundance of opinions and a scarcity of respect. While kids were the subject of this diatribe, I think kids are merely doing what kids have done throughout time: imitating adults.

Here in the Branch, we pride ourselves on having a “hometown” feel — people look out for each other, people are involved in the schools, hugs are given at church and on the sidewalks.

It’s a pretty picture to paint, but is it accurate?

I think it is, at least on the surface, but we, too, are reflective of a larger community. It’s our country. And our country has devolved to arguing every point of contention ad nauseam. There doesn’t seem to be a respect for other opinions, thoughts, experiences and beliefs.

We, as a whole, have become a people that say “our way or the highway,” and it’s not really working for us. It’s not how we get things done.

Most people would agree that there is a lack of respect for others in our world today. Many have an opinion as to how that happened, but I’m much more interested in how to break that cycle, and I think it can start right here in Western Branch.

I’ve seen the ugly up close. I started a Facebook group (Western Branch Growing Forward) a couple years ago in an effort to bring people together to share ideas, come up with solutions and work together to make our community a better place.

I had a mandate of positivity for that page. That is not to say that I didn’t recognize the problems we had. In fact, that is what led me to start the page. I just didn’t want it to become a place of divisiveness, where people and businesses were hurt, like on so many other social media pages.
People actually had an issue with me wanting to keep it positive. Doesn’t that just speak volumes?

Someone set up a separate Facebook page to allow people to say whatever they felt, including attacking businesses for what may have been an “off night.” That sort of thing can irrevocably harm a small business, and to what end? So people who didn’t enjoy their meal that night can sound off online? So that a mob mentality can shut down a business?

I know we can do better. We can model better behavior for our kids. If we want this to be the hometown of our memories, let’s make it a hometown that people want to come home to.

Let’s treat each other with respect and kindness, both in speech and in action. Say hello as you pass people, offer to help your neighbor, be patient in all instances and in general, be supportive rather than derisive.

Let the negativity and cynicism flourish elsewhere, but not here.

Let’s be the example. Let’s show the others how it’s done. Let’s make this the place so many of you describe from the past. It won’t take much effort, just a commitment to treating people like you’d want to be treated.

The old lessons are often the best lessons: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Be kind, both online and offline. And let’s work together to make Western Branch all we wish it to be.

Kathy Reagan Young has lived in Western Branch for 17 years. She owns PR Plus, a marketing company specializing in writing services and Facebook page and ad management for small businesses. Email her at prplusllc@gmail.com.