Never before was there a need to preempt statements with, “This is not political.”

Think about it. Conversation today is never easy, no matter the subject. Sports, food, travel, weather... it’s all political.

Never did I think I’d cover an event in a tiny Central Pa. borough where people on both side of the issue were armed... with guns.

It happened, and I fear it will again.

Never did I think there’s be such outward animus between Americans.

Never did I think outward signs of racism, such as the recent spray painting incidents near Mifflinburg and Lewisburg, would surprise me so little.

We are headed to a place I certainly don’t want to be, and I’m sure there are plenty who feel the same way I do. Few seem to want to work to the unity we as Americans enjoyed, and embraced, just a few short years ago. Remember how we rallied following the events of Sept. 11? That feels like a completely different country these days.

Never would I cast the entire populace of Central Pa., or even the Central Susquehanna Valley, with such a broad brush, but I will say signs of hatred, acts of hostility and strained tensions are growing, with no real sign of ending.

Having lived here over 20 years, the Central Pa. region has been great to me. I’ve raised my two children here, enjoyed working here and taken full advantage of the natural beauty that surrounds us.

The climate now, though, is anything but pleasant.

It takes all of us to correct this erosion of civility.

It’s time our leaders — from the municipal and county level all the way up to our state lawmakers, as well as teachers, police, judges, pastors and business men and woman step up and make it clear that the Central Susquehanna Valley and Central Pa. is a welcoming community.

It’s not hard to spot hatred, however it’s hard to call it out. It takes courage.

Our elected leaders have a duty to set an example, and accept the responsibility that comes with making hard decisions. Those decisions include calling out falsehoods, outright lies and hatred — no matter where it surfaces.

America’s foundations are crumbling under the strain of hatred and in-fighting.

It’s up to ALL of us to firm up the foundation and make tomorrow’s America a better place for our children, and their children.

Anything less would disappoint those who fought and died for our freedom — those who truly believed in life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Chris Brady is managing editor at The Standard-Journal and can be reached at chris@standard-journal.com.

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