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An important time to use our voices

We are at a turning point in the history of not only our nation, but the world.

After the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis less than two weeks ago, rallies, demonstrations, protests and riots have taken place in all 50 states, and close to 20 other nations.

This is a movement unlike anything seen in recent memory, and while the circumstances are sad, it is bringing an important conversation to the forefront and inspiring millions to come together in a unified voice.

I can attempt to discuss the issue in this space, but by no means is this an effort to stear the direction of the discussion. That’s not my place.

In fact, my only role should be to listen and learn.

Those directly affected by racism and hatred are the ones leading the charge. It is the task of the rest of us to work to better understand the situation and do what we can to assist in making change happen.

We are all shaped by our experiences. Our thoughts, opinions and reactions are influenced by our place in society and how we are treated in a given situation. Not all are equal.

This isn’t by any means a Democrat and Republican issue. This is a discussion about humanity, respect and equality. It rises far above politics, which have been doing more to divide us than ever imagined. In contrast, this discussion is becoming a unifying force for many, as their voices join and express their thoughts, talk about their experiences and discuss their hopes for the future.

While the rallies and other events may eventually disappear from our news cycle, the conversation needs to continue.

The conversations among all of us and the opportunity to learn from each other are important as we move forward as a nation. Change is happening, and it needs to happen. It’s long overdue. It will take time, though.

We all have a chance to make a difference in the world. Part of that is by being open to new ideas and learning from each other. In order to learn, we must also be willing to listen and to try something new, even if it makes us uncomfortable. That’s how we grow as individuals, and as a society.

In this space, over the years, I have attempted to find ways to encourage our residents to use their voices and express their thoughts about local activities and current events. That will continue. This newspaper is an opportunity for discussion by the people of our communities, and there will be space for those wishing to express their thoughts.

It is good to see conversations taking place. It is good to see people come together to discuss their concerns. There are detractors, as there always have been, but that shouldn’t put a halt to any discussion.

Racism and bigotry are centuries old problems. They have existed long before any of us were alive, and they will not disappear overnight. It probably won’t even happen in my lifetime.

Hate is taught. It is indoctrinated into our society and, just as it took generations to build, it will take generations to tear down.

Conversations are taking place. They are taking place on the national stage and getting the attention of the rest of the world. People are using their voices, looking at other perspectives and learning from each other. It’s a good first step. The key is to keep moving forward on the journey.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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