Blaming mayor for teen trouble is just silly

Terry Garlock's picture

Every parent’s nightmare is losing a child. I can only imagine the anguish in the two local families who lost teens to suicide recently.

Some say teens in Peachtree City are troubled, as if teens in our town are monolithic, that they need more facilities to entertain them and keep them out of trouble. Will that help? I don’t know, I have my doubts, but it didn’t take long for the finger of blame to be pointed at our new mayor, Harold Logsdon, who expressed his own doubts that our teens are troubled because we haven’t provided more for them to do.

Mayor Logsdon had been in office only a few weeks, but it would have been equally silly to point the finger at Steve Brown were he still mayor after four years in office. This finger-pointing is emblematic of something larger, I think, a seismic shift in how we deal with one another and blame one another.

This newspaper provides a forum for you and me to say what we think on issues of the day. It is too bad, in my view, that so many who take that opportunity use it to demonize fellow citizens whose ideas differ. With venom, ridicule, finger-pointing and name-calling instead of polite and respectful disagreement, we set precisely the example for our children we hope they never see. Common courtesy seems to have become unpopular.

And when calamity strikes, more and more of us think surely a government official must be at fault.

I am reminded of the caterwauling by the media and politicians watching New Orleans on TV, adults who seemed unable to recognize the Gulf coast had just been hit by a catastrophic storm that completely overwhelmed us at all levels. FEMA and other screw-ups didn’t help, but we have come to expect the government to take care of us, even when a catastrophe devastates an entire region of the country. We have come to expect perfection, even under impossible conditions. We have become a nation of whining children.

As I watched the media coverage of the evacuation of some Texas cities as hurricane Rita approached, I wondered at the “gotcha” mentality of these reporters who saw every bump in the road as the fault of some government official. Can the people we rely on to report the news really be thinking like children, I wondered?

In the aftermath of Katrina and Rita, the city of Atlanta disclosed it had no workable evacuation plan. Not to worry, a committee was formed to solve the problem.

Can we talk like sober adults for a moment? Think about this, because too many TV reporters seem wholly unable to think. How can any major city be evacuated without creating its own disaster?

Are there empty hotel rooms by the millions waiting at the end of an evacuee’s journey?

Are restaurants standing ready for ten times the normal mealtime traffic, with staff so loyal they wouldn’t dream of fleeing with their own family?

Will fast food shops tap some hidden reserves so they don’t run out of burgers, fries and cokes when the drive-up window line is three miles long?

Will the roads handle traffic many times rush hour volume? Will gas trucks magically materialize to refill gas station tanks as cars wait in long lines to gas up?

Will grocery store shelves be constantly restocked from delivery 18-wheelers that mysteriously appear in between the normal order cycle and despite impossible traffic jams?

Will travelers find hotel rooms or the relatives they seek, without running out of gas, with plenty of cash in their pocket, and able to quickly find medical care when grandma or one of the kids is sick?

Will restroom facilities be continuously available to operate as fast as they can flush with lines that stretch forever and plenty of space for the throngs to park?

Will ambulance, firefighters and police be able to beat the relentless dense traffic to serve the public?

Will citizens maintain their cool as they compete for disappearing resources to feed and care for their family?

Of course not, it would be a freak show with countless small disasters, and probably a healthy dose of thugs to take advantage of the weak. That’s what we should expect when the routine of our civilized life is seriously disrupted.

Who would be responsible? Who would we blame if disaster struck and catastrophe was created by mass evacuation? Who is at fault when we are unprepared for disaster that affects our family?

Maybe we should look in the mirror. Maybe we should take a little more personal responsibility for ourselves and our loved ones, and have our own plan for what to do when the smelly stuff hits the fan. Maybe we could think things through, even though our reporters do not, and realize that some disasters have no answer, that we have to do the best we can, that we are responsible for ourselves and for our family.

Or, we could just blame the mayor.

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