This will be my final edition with The Cheraw Chronicle.
I originally wanted to write this farewell column last week, but after the tragedy in Charleston I lost the will to do so. I didn’t write a column on the tragedy itself because try as I might, I could not find the words. I honestly felt I had nothing to say that had not already been said.
All I can say is that my thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families, and that in time, I hope we can learn to not only heal as a society, but change.
It seems somewhere along the way, we stopped seeing each other as people and started seeing each other as labels: black, white, liberal, conservative. We label each other, and it feeds into an “us versus them” mentality. We reduce other living people to one of the many details that makes up a person’s identity — usually the one detail that differs from our own.
When we do this, we dehumanize. We stop seeing each other as people and start seeing each other as something lesser that allows us to never consider their thoughts, dreams, hopes, life experiences, feelings or even their right to exist on this earth. We do this all the time in our society; it doesn’t always lead to mass murders, but sometimes it does.
Even when it doesn’t, it still creates suffering. It has to end, and it has to end now. When all is said and done, we all want the same things out of life, and our differences pale in comparison with all the things we have in common with one another. Unfortunately, our society seems absolutely infatuated with the differences. It has to end — it has to end now.
As I said before, my time with The Cheraw Chronicle is coming to an end. I was meant to use this space to say goodbye to The Chronicle’s readers before I leave the paper, but I can’t do that without thinking of the nine people who didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to their friends, family and loved ones before leaving this world.
What I can say is that my time here has been an enriching experience. I would like to thank my editor, Corey Friedman who not only took a chance on hiring me for this job but was also extremely patient as I learned the proverbial ropes. I want to thank Natalie Walker, and Donna Johnson, who work here in The Cheraw Chronicle office with me. They’ve been more help than I can express.
I want to thank the groups and individuals I’ve worked with through the course of my time here. Last but not least, I want to thank the readers. They say newspapers are dead, but so long as there are people who care about what’s happening in their community to support their local newspaper, that will never be true.
Thank you, and God bless you all.
Randy Garner worked as The Cheraw Chronicle’s staff writer and photographer from October 2014 through June 2015.