After over two months of lockdown, the psychological toll the pandemic has taken on our society has reared its ugly head. One out of every three Americans is showing signs of clinical depression, anxiety or both right now, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. We live in a country with a population of 328,200,000 people. So let me say this again…ONE THIRD of the U.S. population is suffering from depression, anxiety or both right now. That equates to over 109 million Americans and over 9,500 Meade Countians who are silently suffering from a process, that if left unchecked, is far more destructive and deadly than any virus ever dreamed of being.
Don’t believe me? Just look through social media posts, do a simple Google search, or have some real talk with a few of your neighbors. After weeks of having the national media scaring people to death with their over-exaggerated doom and gloom along with stressing over financial issues and dealing with children who have also had their worlds turned upside down, many people have found themselves at their wit’s end.
As a result of all this, for weeks now, we have all been witnessing a growing level of anger and aggression being openly displayed on a level which I don’t think I’ve ever seen. That’s saying a lot, too, considering the atmosphere of the country and its politics over the last several years. So the riots and destruction that have been unleashed across America should be no real surprise to anyone. This country has been in a constant state of fear, despair, and anger as it digested the doom and gloom 24/7 national media division barrage for all of this year. It was only a matter of time before the tinder box exploded.
I can’t change Louisville or Minneapolis, but it is always my hope, in writing for the Messenger, that I can help make a difference here at home. So what I am going to address this week are some things that have taken place over the last several weeks in this county that I love that have really bothered me. I have witnessed some fellow Meade Countians allow themselves to be reduced to temper tantrum throwing, irrational children who could use a trip to the wood shed for the anger and hatefulness they are slinging, especially on social media.
First off is the Meade County High School graduation. I don’t always agree 100 percent with everything the Meade County School District does, but in their defense, I’ll also say a lot of those issues I don’t agree with aren’t necessarily their fault. We have allowed for so much power to be stripped from individual districts and placed into the hands of the national and state education departments that Meade County often just has to do as it’s told.
With that being said, the MCSD has worked within the parameters it is required to by state and national mandates and become one of the leading districts in the state of Kentucky. That’s saying a lot for a small rural county. Much of this success is because of some of the wonderful educators we have who have often thought outside the box, made do with what they had, and succeeded all the same.
MCHS principal Janette Schmidt is a perfect example of this. Born and raised a Greenwave, her personality is saturated with a level of positivity that would be hard to be outdone, and her love for this county and its students is second to none. As Schmidt and her team worked to make this year’s graduation as special as it could be under the circumstances, an angry mob of parents took to social media along with other avenues to disparage and attack everyone from the board office to their high school office over what they perceived as stupid, ridiculous graduation parade. They wanted what other area schools had. They didn’t want to be different.
Fast forward to graduation night 2020, the administration and all those involved in its planning knocked the event out of the park. Not a disparaging word could be found. In fact, it was such a hug success that many have called for this to be the way graduation is held in the future. Just like that, everyone who threw a fit that they weren’t having a graduation like Hardin or Breckenridge County disappeared into the shadows to eat crow. Thank you MCHS for daring to be different, despite the grief you had to temporarily endure. Just be kind Meade County, lesson number one.
Next, there was the water leak that hit Flaherty a few weeks back. Meade County Water District employees worked around the clock for days trying to find and repair a leak that left one of the most densely populated stretches of town without water. People once again took to social media, the phones and even got in their cars to distract the crews with their poisonous words of anger, as they berated the workers. With no regard to the fact that these workers were away from their family, some getting only 7 hours of sleep over a 61-hour span, the anger and hatefulness of customers flowed faster than the hundreds of thousands of gallons of water that flowed from the leak. It was blowing back under the roadway, running off into a sinkhole and never surfacing, even when the workers dug down beside the pipe where the leak was finally found, making it nearly impossible to be found. My home was affected as well by this inconvenience but in the end that’s all it really was for me. Just be kind Meade County, lesson number two.
There are more examples than this, but the story ultimately is more of the same. I get it; we are all stressed. We all want the best for our families. Anger, depression, fear, jealousy, and anxiety are the emotions that are currently ruling the day right now. We can’t change the world. We can’t fix this country. But by jumping on social media and spewing anger and hate at our friends, families and neighbors just because they choose a different path or hold different beliefs on some matter, we can sure show our children who are always watching how to tear our society apart. Let us all take a deep breath and remember our neighbors are not our enemies. Let us all choose to lead with our hearts and just be kind Meade County. By doing that, we may just change this corner of the world and leave a shining example to our youth of how uniting, not dividing, is the only way to handle times when they get tough. Love is the only answer, no matter how cliché that may appear to be.