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A different perspective

By Tim Croft
The Star

I was sitting at my desk having one of my increasingly-frequent pity parties. 

Don’t know about anyone reading these words, but I will guess most of us have had a pity party or two in recent months. 

We badly need are normal human connections, but too often they are simply Zoomed and on-the-street conversations are typically much shorter than normal. 

“How’s it going. Nice to see you. How is your health?” 

“Just hanging in there. Taking it a day at a time. Stay safe.” 

And, there not that many variations on the theme. 

For most of us in Gulf County, it is been that way for almost two years, since Hurricane Michael paid a visit and left a mess as one of the most unwelcome guests imaginable. 

There is a certain numbness, or wall constructed. 

Better to protect from the reality of so many stressors: a novel virus that America stands atop in cases and deaths; unrest due to the lack of social justice for large swaths of society; the increasing wealth gap; and a presidential election shaping up as a democracy-destroyer no matter who wins. 

I had to chuckle a bit Sunday when listening to Bobby Alexander preaching at First Baptist Church and acknowledging his respect for Pastor Boyd Evans being able to answer the call in these times to preach every week. 

Brother Bobby, I can relate. 

In any case, this particular pity party was interrupted by a phone call and what may have been the most relieved voices to have heard my voice in quite some time. 

She had been trying to place an obituary for her father, who passed away recently in Wewahitchka. 

She had been trying desperately to reach somebody and had become sucked into our phone automated system which was likely invented by some sadist who learned directly from the Marquise de Sade. 

Not only had she a problem reaching a human voice, an issue that has made more than one of us grind teeth to nubs due to the rarity of human voices, but she had no clue where to start on an obituary. 

And, she mentioned, so matter-of-factly that she was calling from Athens, Greece. 

This was a first for me and the pity party was quickly replaced by my journalistic pheromones rushing to my brain. 

Call it being reporter or just being nosy, I started asking a few questions, trying to respect her privacy, particularly given the circumstances of the call. 

Turned out she had started after college in journalism, had jumped to a couple of places, last living, stateside, in Tallahassee. 

Now she was doing missionary work with refugees in Greece, saying it as if informing me she was headed to the Piggly Wiggly for milk. 

Now, I knew something about the refugee situation in Europe, where many have fled the Middle East, particularly the civil war in Syria, via Turkey. 

Greece, in fact, had initially been among the more welcoming countries, providing safe haven to refugees along the islands that surround the mainland. 

But, a new government has taken a harder line. 

And one result, according to reports published last week in a slew of newspapers across the world, is that the government has begun placing refugees on inflatable rafts and pushing them out into international waters. 

One raft, this is an inflatable raft, was the new “floating home” to 1,000 people who have for five years tried simply to escape the war and death in their homeland. 

And by taking them out into international waters and leaving the refugees to navigate the Mediterranean on their own in their raft, the country was violating international law. 

Which these days, unfortunately, seems as common as a new positive coronavirus case. 

Needless to say, my pity party rapidly evaporated. 

Amid a pandemic that has crippled countries and economies across the world. 

Amid the nativist and statist rhetoric which has come to dominate the world stage and declared war on the civil discourse. 

Amid the partisan tussling and tugging that has become our nation and world, here was one person trying to make a difference for people of another language, faith, life-experience, fleeing a far-off war-torn land. 

While at the same time trying to juggle the arrangements for the passing of her father back in Gulf County. 

I have replayed that brief conversation in my head again and again. 

In doing so, I have arrived at several conclusions. 

One, pity parties are like tough guys; there is always somebody tougher and there is always someone with a heavier burden to succumb to pity over. 

Second, anybody, even one person with Gulf County links, possesses the potential to make a difference, no matter how small or large, spotlighted or in the background. 

And, third, we are on this planet, the only one we are getting, together. 

The quicker we realize it the more rapid recovery can come about, from Michael, from COVID and from the acts we commit against each other.