Things Change

The last few weeks have been a time to watch things change.

Take the Celts, for example. The Celtic Festival coming up in Mayville is always a great community event, lots of fun and even inspiring with its music and traditions. Please accept your Jamestown Gazette’s cover story invitation to take it all in and take home some good memories.

But have you ever wondered who those Celts really were, way back in the day? They weren’t originally Irish or Scottish or Welsh or any of the other traditional seven Celtic Nations. They were Iron Age warriors with a culture born in Middle Europe at least 3,000 years ago.

The Celts were so fierce, even Roman emperors hired them as mercenary soldiers to take on some of the toughest battles that even the legendary Roman Legions needed help with.

Today, however, the Celts are known for their bagpipes, Irish beer and kilts.

Is that fair to so noble a tradition? Probably not, but it does show that things do change. In this case, from war to peace.

And that’s my point. Even today, thinking about such terrible events as those in Charlottesville recently, there may be a path from violence to peace, a way for good to eventually win over evil.

The solution begins with understanding the problem. In this case, with the study of contagious diseases.

Hatred is a contagious disease. People who carry it, spread it. President Jimmy Carter adds, “Aggression unopposed becomes a contagious disease.”

Remember the doctors and nurses who went to Africa to help in the deadly Ebola epidemic recently? Some of them caught the disease themselves. People who oppose hatred are in the same danger.

If you and I plan to live up to the pledge made in Tracy Plaza last week, “Not in Our Town” (see page 1), we’ll need to be inoculated against the condition. Pastor Shawn Hannon’s article on page 5 offers a deep and powerful insight into both the nature and the cure.

The immunization consists of several parts. First, and maybe the hardest, could fit on a bumper sticker. “Hate the hate, not the hater.” Doctors don’t hate sick people, they hate the sickness. Even if it is a self-imposed illness, doctors want the person cured.

So what about people who spread hate as if it were a virtue? Do not be intimidated. You are contagious too. British playwright, Sir Tom Stoppard, said, “A healthy attitude is contagious but don’t wait to catch it from others. Be a carrier.” You’ll need courage, too, according to Billy Graham, who promises, “Courage is contagious. When a brave person takes a stand, the spines of other people are often stiffened, too.”

And the final dose of vaccine against catching hatred and aggression comes from Dr. Martin Luther King. “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

If all of that – a good attitude, courage and love – doesn’t quite sound to you like the best way to fight hatred, intolerance, bigotry and aggression, be very careful when you confront the epidemic.

If you let the fighters draw you into a brawl, you’ll give somebody an excuse for calling your way the moral equivalent of the haters’ way.

Enjoy the read.

Walt Pickut