I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville writer with a passion for family travel, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark. Want to get in touch? Use the CONTACT form at the top of the page.
August 25, 2021
A good friend from my past posted on social media recently that a close family member suffering from COVID had been put on a ventilator. She asked for prayers. The next day, she posted anti-vax and anti-mask memes.
On Saturday, a well-known local talk show host died of COVID. Although he was a COVID skeptic and had not gotten vaccinated, once his COVID diagnosis became severe and he was hospitalized, he stated that he regretted not being pro-vaccination and urged everyone to get vaccinated. Despite this, hundreds of commenters left nasty comments on both his and his family’s social media pages, celebrating his illness and eventual death.
Saturday, I took my son to the mall in the suburbs. Since it was crowded and we have an immunocompromised family member, we wore masks. We were almost the only ones wearing them and at one point, a teenage boy made a point of coughing on me.
Welcome to Nashville, y’all.
Things have gotten really weird in this city, which is largely filled with liberal Democrats but surrounded on all sides by conservative Republicans. Living on the border, my part of Nashville has a mix of the two, and while there was a time when I loved the range of perspectives among my neighbors and believed that living and working together helped make us all far more tolerant of each other’s beliefs, well, that time is over. In the wake of the Trump presidency, the Black Lives Matter movement, and now the COVID pandemic, compromise and tolerance over the last few years have come to seem all but impossible.
I’ve opted to mostly stay silent about the state of things, partly because babysitting those kinds of social media posts is incredibly time-consuming and depressing and partly because I really don’t think screeds from suburban white women are what the world needs or wants right now. But I have done a lot of watching and reading and listening to the people I come in contact with every day and it’s pretty clear to me that regardless of where you stand and which side you’re on, the other side’s point of view seems incomprehensible. Dangerous. Even life-threatening. And it’s making daily life here extremely difficult.
A few weeks ago, I was confronted by this reality in a big way. Although Nashville public schools have a mask mandate in effect, Williamson County schools next door started the year without one. As COVID cases surged in that county, a special meeting was called a few days into the school year to allow the school board to hear from the public and then vote on whether to implement a mask mandate. Hundreds of parents showed up to protest against masks. Parents who were doctors, nurses, and infectious disease specialists also showed up to give their professional opinions as to why masks in schools are vital right now. During the meeting, they were shouted at by other parents, called names, and threatened. The video of the meeting is worth watching, if you’re interested. You don’t have to view much to get a clear picture of the scene.
The board ended up voting in favor of masks for the district’s elementary school children and after the meeting, things got scary in the parking lot. The video made national news.
This video is shocking, no matter where you live but I think it’s safe to say that locally, it’s been devastating. I know some of these parents. Their kids have played soccer with my kids and gone to elementary school with my kids. Until I saw this video, I wouldn’t have thought this kind of behavior would have been possible here. I thought we were all good people in this community, people who would show some respect for the opinions of our neighbors, particularly when those opinions are coming from a place of expertise.
I thought wrong.
I’ve seen these thoughts echoed among my friends and acquaintances over the last few weeks as they’ve recognized some of the angry faces in the video and realized they work with these people. They go to church with these people. Their kids play with the kids of these people. The video has brought into stark relief just how bad things have gotten, not just online but in real life. And I’m deeply worried right now about our community’s future, because while Presidents and governors will come and go, COVID will one day be a worry of the past, and politics will carry on with or without our input and anger, the relationships we form within our communities are often lifelong and the fracturing of those relationships is something we’ve got to take seriously.
So, where do we go from here? Is healing possible? And how do we make it happen? I’ve read lots of posts from people vowing to distance themselves from friends and family members whose political opinions veer wildly from their own. While I definitely understand the temptation there, I’ve personally decided that’s not the way to go. And the only way I can make sense of it is to break it down to the simplest terms. I’ve been struggling with the role church plays/has played/should play in my life, but I still hold tight to the actual words of Jesus, who called all of us to love one another. Not judge one another, or agree with one another, or school one another, or set boundaries with one another, or scoff at one another, or block one another. Love. One. Another. It’s that simple. I’ve turned to that commandment over and over throughout this national shitshow. I haven’t always been successful in following it. But it has helped me to at least perceive what the right thing to do is in most every situation. It has kept me from leaving angry comments, from unfriending longtime friends and acquaintances, and from saying something snarky out loud that won’t help matters — and I think it can apply to people of all faiths and backgrounds.
What if we committed to try, just try to love one another, despite our backgrounds and ideological differences? I realize this is asking a lot right now when we’re surrounded on all sides by so much anger, fear, and mistrust. Love is a radical decision. But it’s the one I’ve chosen, and I think it’s made my life a little bit better over the last couple of years. And I think if enough people were to commit to making an attempt to love one another, it could go a long way toward healing communities, cities, states, and even a deeply fractured nation.
I’m not trying to change any opinions with this post, really — just sharing what’s on my mind right now. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for ‘listening.’ ❤️
Got a comment? Feel free to contact me — I’d love to hear from you.