Bringing out worst in people

In the last few weeks, the community supporting Parkersburg South High School has been hit by several issues relating to controversial topics. This letter isn’t going to rehash those topics and outcomes. What I am addressing is the relationship between people and the loss of civility when discussing different viewpoints.

Following an online posting of my opinion on one of these topics, I was told that I should “do Parkersburg a favor and go to the Belpre bridge … stand up on the railing and jump off!!” Now this being the first time I was the recipient of such wishes, I was quite taken a-back. It hurt.

Unfortunately, the discussion of controversial decisions seems to bring out the worst in people. This particular comment wasn’t anonymous; the name was given with the comment. Other instances have resulted in adults telling high school students they wished the student would “be raped and killed” simply for requesting federal and state laws be followed. A Rhode Island State representative referred to a young lady as an “evil little thing” for such a request.

I cannot imagine a world where such things are accepted under the guise of “Oh, it’s just a small community,” or “There will always be people like that.” But it is being accepted and the perpetrators are being told “This is OK,” with covert pats on the back with the quiet “likes” and the damning-them-with-faint-praise comments such as “Oh, you know themThat’s just how they are”

How can we grow as a community when we tacitly allow such behaviors and comments to go unaddressed by simply excusing them and looking the other way? Regardless which side of a topic you stand on, you owe the other side the simple decency to remember they are human and you have more in common with them than differences.

I am going to close with a line from my grandmother’s favorite poem, “House By the Side of the Road” by Sam Walter Foss: “Let me live in a house by the side of the road; And be a friend to man.”

Sonja Phillips

Hurricane, W.Va.