Editor’s Column: Hindsight is 20/20

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By Niki Turner | editor@ht1885.com

2020 sucks. On that — if on nothing else — we can all agree. I’m still scraping branches off my roof from this week’s super-early winter storm. I don’t know why any of us are surprised, the weather these days is beyond unpredictable and into apocalyptic. 

But there’s something else we can agree on: We are stronger than we know, corporately and individually. I’m not speaking on behalf of the state or the nation or even the county, but on behalf of our local communities. 

As I’ve said before in this space, our strength lies in our ability to see past each other’s politics, preferences, and personal idiosyncrasies to find common ground, for no other reason than  because we all live here. We come together when someone suffers loss or celebrates an achievement in a way that puts larger communities to shame. When it comes down to it, I think we’d all reach out to our “worst enemy” locally if they had a personal catastrophe.

That’s part of the reason I get so frustrated with social media… the number of nasty comments that come from people who don’t even live here far outweigh the comments from those of us who see each other at the post office and the grocery store. 

Regardless of our political persuasions and individual likes and dislikes, we all have to figure out how to live together in some degree of harmony and peace if we’re going to thrive. We’re too small of a puddle to enjoy the luxury of wars amongst ourselves. We have to work together. 

In the last four years (I forgot we just celebrated our fourth anniversary of ownership last week, and my 20th anniversary of working at the paper in a few weeks), I’ve become aware that as a community, we corporately dislike conflict and strife. That’s a strength on one side, and a weakness on the other. It’s good to want to avoid conflict with one’s neighbors. It’s bad to turn away from conflict when there’s still a battle unresolved.

Times are tough, and they’re only going to get tougher. If we’re to survive, we must find ways to overcome our petty differences and bond together. 

Our role in the community as the media outlet is always in the foremost of my mind. In the last few months I’ve boiled it down to some fairly simple terms. First, we are just silent witnesses. Second, we’re narrators. We narrate the story as it plays out. Some may disagree, but as a writer friend quipped recently, “Every villian is the hero of his own story.”

I think back to all the fun projections we had about the year 2020; holidays falling on perfect dates and so forth. Instead we have “the mess we’re in.”

So there’s an idiom we like to toss around, “Hindsight is 20/20.” What we mean when we say that is that looking back on a situation, we can see clearly how we got there. What bad decisions led to that moment? What failures created that situation? What could we have done differently to prevent those outcomes?

That’s terrifying when you apply it to this year. What if everything we’re experiencing could have been avoided by proper planning and foresight and accompanying action? 

Take it out of the national and state context, if you will, and bring it down to your own personal life. I know for myself there are traumatic things that could have been avoided with some better communication, confidence, and preparation. I’m looking back and recognizing all kinds of places I could have done something differently that would have changed my position today. 

How about you? Is hindsight 2020 for you?