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Thornton: LaGrange defies divisive narrative

By Jim Thornton

Mayor of LaGrange

I recently participated in the Faith & Blue event at First Baptist Church on the Square, which was part of a larger, national effort to bring together the local law enforcement community and local churches.

Locally, it was a wonderful occasion of prayer and conversation. The event reinforced that the support for our local police is broad and it is diverse.

Based on the events of recent months, one could be lead to believe the prevailing narrative that is one of division:  either “police lives matter” or “black lives matter,” but never the twain shall meet.

These sentiments are not and must not be mutually exclusive. That willingness to proclaim both was on full display in LaGrange at the Faith & Blue event.

The national narrative seeks to divide us into red states and blue states, Democrats and Republicans, Blacks and whites.

But that national narrative is not only a lie, it is also not very helpful for those us who seek to build bridges and see our common humanity in each other.

As a community in LaGrange and Troup County, as a diverse community, and as a community of faith, we are pushing back against the national narrative that seeks to divide people, and we are standing united together.

Sometimes we forget that everyone basically wants the same things in life: quiet neighborhoods to raise their family; safe streets for traffic and commerce; busy factories and offices for work; and fairness and equity for all people.

We can achieve these common goals when we support our local law enforcement in their difficult jobs. But we can only achieve these common goals when we ensure that no one is left out, and especially no one is left out simply because of the color of their skin.

National politics and social media ask individuals to pick a side or choose a team. Community gatherings like Faith & Blue remind us that the ties that bind us are more important than picking a team.

I recognize the strong headwinds that we are pushing against.

On a national, or even a state level, and certainly on social media, it is far easier to vilify “the other” because we don’t really know them.

“The other” may be a person of a different race, or political party, or work. However, on a local level, “the other” is actually our neighbor and a fellow member of our community. Rather than vilify those we don’t know, let’s take the time to get to know them.

You might find a new friend.