On Friday night, my wife Rachel asked if I was okay. It was about 10 p.m. and I was lying on the part of the couch usually reserved for our beagle though I was contorted on my back, limbs listlessly hanging without purpose in a way that must have mirrored the dog.
“I was reading the news,” I responded. “It didn’t go well.”
This week in Citrus County, the Commission began a three-week search for more money to subsidize Naturecoast EMS, an organization that is on the brink of bankruptcy. No matter the amount given, it will be a small solution to a big problem.
The Citrus Springs dog park idea was tabled after revised cost estimates showed a once roughly $65,000 project had now reached a six-figure price tag. Revised cost estimates have yet to affect the new animal shelter project because the location of the proposed shelter remains uncertain between neighboring the county jail or about two and a half miles south on 491 of that location near the College of Central Florida. The shelter project, like the dog park and Central Ridge park renovations, appears to be stuck at square one.
Local headlines yielded much of the front page this week, however, to news from the state and federal level.
On Friday, a judge ruled Gov. Ron DeSantis’ ban on mask-mandates in schools was unconstitutional and on Thursday news broke of the deadliest attack against Americans on Afghanistan soil in over a decade, in which 13 American lives were tragically lost.
I told Rachel that I would have to write about these things. “Why?” she asked with good reason. “They aren’t local.”
As usual, she is right. These topics are outside the Concurrent’s range of commentary so I am not going to discuss either in terms of how to solve them. A mission of the Concurrent as stated in the first ever column, though, is, ““I do hope you’ll find my personal struggles with my own opinions helpful with reconciling yours as well”
My erratic pose on the couch Friday was a physical rendering of my own struggle with the news of the week. You may have experienced it too but managed to contain your own feelings in a less overt way.
The truth is we often do try to conceal our feelings, sometimes through displaying our emotions physically through crying or couch contorition, and other times through using subtler tactics.
Oftentimes, we will try to mask how we’re feeling through portraying the opposite.
Fortunately, I haven’t felt sick for many years, but when I do, I try to dress above what I usually wear when healthy, falsely correlating looking good to feeling good as well.
Elected officials have employed the same strategy this week. Part of the disconnect I’m feeling while reading the news is the disingenuous, if not outright untruthful, emotion.
What we’re seeing at the federal, state and local levels is different in terms of emotions but it's the same strategy of bad disguise. Where we are lost on policy, some are trying to appear in control. Where we are weak, we are asserting our strength. And where we are stagnant, we praise each other for continued progress.
I get why we hide behind the opposite of how we truly feel. The leaders at each level are self-aware enough to know they are accountable for their constituents. It may even be responsible to put on a an act.
But even if we feel lost, weak and stagnant, as I do when I read the news, I embrace these negative emotions because there is one more we can’t forget about: hope.
There is no such thing as temporary hope. We’ll find our way again, being lost doesn’t last. We can find within us strength, even if adversity has left us tired and the wheel of progress will one day begin again. These are temporary. Before it, during it and after it, though, there is hope.
The most insidious act the news can do while reporting on these disingenuous emotions from others is to allow the very real feelings of fear, doubt and guilt to creep into our own hearts. Hope blocks it out. Even the quote from the first ever Concurrent column above began with, “I hope.”
The Concurrent can be critical, it can be convoluted and, at times, contrarian. But our promise to you is to always also be hopeful, and our sincerest wishes that you never lose that as well.