Editorial: 'This is what we have come to'
By Richard Gaw
A Chester County Press reporter arose earlier than usual one day last week, in order to attend a 6:30 a.m. breakfast meeting of the Longwood Rotary Club. It had been a difficult week on the radio, in the newspapers and on television, and as he drove to Longwood Gardens, the same chamber chorus of negativity and vitriol he had heard all week blurted from the car radio as he drove. The news was all over: The unlikely candidate, whose run for the office of the President of the United States had once been considered a innocuous flotsam of self-importance, had now assumed a fully formed identity, one carbon-copied from the absolute worst pages of our nation's history and delivered in rhetoric so incendiary, so blatantly divisive and foul, that it practically begs to be heard again in order to hammer home the truth that it has actually been spoken in the first place.
The reporter continued to drive through the empty streets of the Kennett Borough, as the radio spoke about the unlikely candidate's public speaking events, brazenly spilling into mayhem, seemingly without even the least amount of regard for civility. The radio spoke about the unlikely candidate's willingness to pay for the legal fees of a supporter who cold-cocked a protester who attempted to disrupt the event. The radio spoke about the mushroom cloud burst of a long-silent American voice suddenly being given license to scream, but upon closer listen, the loudest voices heard in the arenas and auditoriums of the unlikely candidate's campaign are not protesting merely the ineptness of the federal government, or the call for change. The radio merely put the microphone before the unlikely candidate's supporters, and suddenly, without direct reference to either terms or the ugliness of their definitions and practices, the fiber of what this campaign has become crawled out from behind the surface.
The reporter parked his car in the Longwood Gardens parking lot.
“So, is this what we've come to?” he thought.
As the reporter took a quick glance around the Longwood Rotary Club meeting, he spotted business leaders, health professionals, appointed officials and longtime volunteers, all of whom conduct their role as Rotarians according to the motto “Service Above Self.” Between coffee and bagels, member after member stood up and spoke enthusiastically about an upcoming community event, or a benefit next month that needed volunteers. It is an organization, the reporter discovered, whose initiative is formed through handshakes, e-mails and phone calls, and whose practice is defined by selflessness.
This past Saturday morning, the reporter again rose early in order to attend the fifth annual fundraising brunch for YoungMoms, a local organization dedicated to providing teenage mothers in southern Chester County with resources and opportunities that enable them to succeed in ways they previously thought were unthinkable. The event, held at the Garage Community & Youth Center in Kennett Square, brought together members of the community who have selflessly dedicated their time and resources to an organization that has, in its five years of existence, built proverbial stepladders for more than 125 young women in our area.
Toward the end of the fundraiser, two young mothers were invited to speak before the more than 150 guests who attended the event. At first, the size of the audience intimidated the two women, who fumbled for words to describe the positive impact that YoungMoms has had on their lives. They spoke slowly about feeling hopeless, abandoned and ashamed, nearly unable to function in a world that they believed was a judgmental one. Then they each looked up and spotted their mentors in the audience, pointed them out, and told them that they loved them for what they had done for them.
The reporter stood slightly to the left of the stage, as applause enveloped the room. This is what we have come to, he thought. This is the louder voice, long simmering, and finally unleashed.