My chest tightens, and I feel my shoulders rise to my ears. Inhale becomes staggered as exhale turns into more of a sigh than a relieving breath.
Once a competitive athlete, I know what ensues when adversity paints the corners of the mind with lies and self-doubt. Thought no longer rushes like a river, but it is more of an interrupted waterfall crashing into rocks, sending a blanket of cold spray, making heavy what was once light.
Writers write to communicate parts of themselves they keep hidden, locked away in a protected trove, fearsome of public consumption. It is our only honest view of the world around us, not yet dressed appropriately or shined into our second language, speech. We speak in accepted colloquialisms, but we write our truth.
I have put off writing my column as I have received emails spewing venom, attacking me personally, threatening my business, and using my role as a mother to pierce a usually impenetrable skin. The reality of my words affecting my daughter imposes a paralysis unfamiliar to my devil-may-care approach.
How can my words provoke perfect strangers to loathe, rebuke and yearn to humiliate another? I will not write if I can’t write what I feel. My words, like my thoughts, can not be shamed into conformity. The freedom to turn the page is, at this time, not contested.
In our controversy-driven society, hate is celebrated, demanding all to bend to the desires and beliefs of a few or accept the branding of the newest scarlet letter. Free speech is more threatened by a disagreeing mob than by a governing body. The battle cry of free speech silenced by screams of neighbors, coworkers, and strangers bears a more significant democratic wound than laws amended.
We choose who we place in leadership roles, just as we can choose to remove them. It is We, the People, that I fear the most. It is the lady so offended by my words that she attacks me personally. The man that says he will make sure my business fails. Or the teacher questioning my ability to raise a child for no reason other than my views differ from those discussed at her dinner table.
Screams create silence, not change. The act of spewing venom at any opposing views does nothing but cover you in poison. One can not espouse Christianity while vowing to hate. Nor can one attack a Christian for believing what they do not.
What has become of us? Are we so invested in being right that we will settle for being controlled? Has mob mentality replaced decency and rational thought?
Distrust of the government is healthy, and holding those in leadership accountable is compulsory for the survival of any society. Waging war against your neighbor changes nothing but your quality of life. Attacking a stranger proves nothing but a lack of character and a weakened mental restraint.
We are wandering through a time of emotional wildfire. Civil debate once provided passage but now smolders on scorched earth where nothing survives.
My column once brought me so much joy, writing about the touches of humor in humanity, the comical meanderings of southerners, and our laughable attempt to lead the lives we pretend to lead.
If I can not write freely, I can not write. There is no humor in hatred, no laughter in hostility. We, the People, are a mighty army. We can choose to march toward change, peace, and compromise or fight among ourselves, destroying the most important power we have left. Allowing the few to wreak havoc on the many is not a sign of civility but evidence that divided, we will fall.
Writing an entertaining, light-hearted column is very difficult when the entire world suffers from a heavy heart. I do hope we get well soon. It is within us to overcome.
Cherimie Crane Weatherford is the owner/founder of SugarBelle, a long-time real estate broker and a lover of the obscurities of southern culture. To contact her with praise and adoration, email CCWIslandNews@gmail.com. To complain, call your local representative.