Symptoms of Discontent



Lovettsville, the Town of Love and community, is suffering the stress of the pull and push of a political climate that challenges the most stoic to retain composure and respect and dignity.

It’s a feeling and challenge experienced more widely than this old German-Irish settlement in Western Loudoun.  But there are lessons to learn from recent events.

In the last few weeks, first, one individual altered a business sign to insist on a Trumpian view of a Town Plaza.

After that, a woman shouted and cursed in a local restaurant, Andy’s, that a Guatemalan family visiting a friend and family member should show their passports, leave the country, there were obscenities, get the #%@& outa here, telling the family including a 7 year old, they should not speak in any language but English in this country.  The cell phone video has since been widely reported on local nbc tv, Buzzfeed and found its way onto other national news and social media outlets.

There have been various defenses for those offending individuals, corrective steps have been taken, fixing the sign, banning the cursing finger-pointing woman from Andy’s Restaurant, but these remedies only go so far, and they do not alter the offending incidents themselves, no matter how promptly these incidents were corrected by other responsible citizens.

What was once reserved to the unreserved trash talk back and forth on Lovettsville’s Facebook Group 20180, has escaped the burgeoning dark alleys of the internet, into the public square.

Lovettsville has been what we call “a destination” but defacing business signs and shouting bigoted obscenities in a public restaurant mimics the worst aspect of what passes for politics in America.

This makes Lovettsville a less attractive place to visit.

Of course, this is happening elsewhere in Loudoun County and across the nation.

Walt Whitman imagined a better America, “I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear” – all created “equal,” struggling toward an elusive promise this nation made to the world when declaring its independence.

The Lovettsville Town Council has a provision to discourage public misbehavior.

There are learned and sacred books that plainly prescribe right and correct behavior.

Both the Town Council’s prescriptions and these books of “wisdom,” spiritual and otherwise, are ignored so much in daily practice, it is hypocrisy to claim them as guiding the conduct of many real and living people who also invoke them even as they ignore their teachings and contradict what they know to be right and correct behavior.

I almost wish it were both political parties and more universal so I could say we all have to do better.

But in Lovettsville, the party and the shared view fall on one side of the political ledger.

It is the Republicans and their misguided supporters who believe so solemnly that the ends justify the means that they enjoy the license to act as they please, that they may blithely disregard the comity that the Town has celebrated until recently.

Only a year ago, the Octoberfest on Friday night, downtown, was such a gathering of friendship and grand bonhomie, it felt like a college football gathering after a big game.

It was somehow not the same this year – more like a crowded commercial event.

When I was in High School, the Principal talked of school spirit, a manner of celebrating successes and helping each other in bad times, and that this was an objective we should work to achieve, to have “school spirit.”

Our “town spirit” has suffered a body blow and it’s up to each and every one of us to respect each other and, to make it real simple, to play by the rules that adults insist their children follow, and not just those that carry civil or criminal penalties, but to do what we know is right to do.

Perhaps others have the same view about their local community.

As the poet Whitman wrote, we would serve ourselves well were we to see the “eternity in men and women” and “not see men and women as dreams or dots.

A good friend, former Maryland Lieutenant Governor Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, wrote, and I couldn’t agree more, “The notion that the fate of each one of us is tied to the fate of all is the essence of democracy …”  Let’s start acting like we believe this!