Oh, the irony of it all!
Not long ago I found myself in the center of an online bashing festival by keyboard bullies who were upset about bullying. Did that statement make sense to you? Allow me to go a little deeper.
Bullying was the hot topic and I was a member of the Sedalia School District 200 Board of Education at the time. Several of the board members, including myself, were tagged and called out on social media for not doing enough to eradicate the bullying problem.
Rather than coming to a board meeting or contacting one of us to inquire as to the programs we had put in place, this person (people) blamed us for not doing enough even though this person had not inquired about any of it.
These people have now returned to social media with their bullying tactics, attempting to defame others for doing their jobs to the best of their ability.
It seems to be the same people every time. At the very least it is disheartening, but it is also destructive to the community. If we cannot communicate with civility, we instantaneously divide into teams. It reminds me of gym class when we were in elementary school and were choosing teams. The “captains” would begin choosing those players who would do well in battle and they would leave the weakest to fend for themselves. I suppose some people never moved past that strategy as they grew older.
Last week, JoAnn Martin, Administrator of the Pettis County Health Center, released a letter stating many positive cases of COVID-19 were found among some churchgoers and those who were attending Bible studies in homes. Mrs. Martin did not suggest we not attend church; she was only stating the facts of what the department found. She cannot tell us which church or what homes these Bible studies took place in. She simply warned that this type of activity could easily spread the virus if proper protection was not utilized.
The keyboard warriors went into full force exaggerating Mrs. Martin’s statement. They suggested she stated that the citizens of Pettis County should no longer attend church services or Bible studies. I read that letter a dozen times trying to find where she may have even insinuated that we should not attend church and I couldn’t find it. Yet there they were; the keyboard bullies. They have called for her resignation, enticed people to call her names, questioned the legality of the Health Center’s board and have continually harassed her.
It didn’t stop there.
The Sedalia School District released a tentative plan for re-opening school this fall. I cannot imagine the stress that the administration of the district is under right now. This is a novel virus and a novel situation. It is unchartered territory, so no one will know what the correct approach will be. We all have ideas regarding what we feel would be best for our children and grandchildren, but how will we know for sure? This is a hit and miss situation. We must remain flexible and willing to change with the virus as it changes.
During Monday night’s school board meeting, some people chose to utilize their allotted three minutes to bully the board of education. They threatened them with being held accountable for whatever outcome is created by the decisions the board is attempting to make. How can the board know what is best when this is a situation that has never occurred before and why should they be strong-armed into seeing things from the perspective of a few who have not spent the past four months evaluating the problem with other districts and state agencies? How do these people know, without a doubt, what is right for the over 5,000 students in our district?
Some parents chose to have their children speak to the board about their concerns. Although it was touching to see these young students speak, their questions were quite obviously rehearsed and prompted by the adults. In my opinion, those parents did nothing more than place fear into the minds of innocent children. It was upsetting to watch as their voices cracked and some cried. These discussions should be civil, meaningful and left to adult discretion.
I agreed with many of the statements made by the patrons who spoke. I do not agree with the way they handled the situation on social media or during the school board meeting. I do not mean to point fingers at all of the patrons who spoke. Some were very respectful and offered meaningful input.
The bullies, however, are leading a group of people down a path that will cause division and angst in the community. Name-calling and strong-arming do not create civility. It is up to you to decide how this discussion will continue. I pray that we will all choose civility.