Editor’s note: This column was written days before registered Amory voters decided if their town would allow alcohol sales or not.

A little more than five years ago, I was in the exact same predicament I’ve been in recently – do I sound off with my own opinion about Amory’s alcohol vote or not? As I clearly stated then and numerous times in conversations recently, “I don’t live there, I don’t have a dog in that fight and I don’t care if it passes or not. Just let the registered voters of Amory decide what they want.”

It’s funny how history always seems to repeat itself.

The column back then was actually translated in several different ways than how I meant it. I think what set it off then and again now is something history keeps throwing back in people’s faces.

Why do people always tend to throw stones at other places? After letters to the editor insinuated alcohol to be the cause of Aberdeen and Okolona’s changes decades from before, I heard from residents from one of the towns who wanted to vent to me about it.

“Why do they keep talking about Aberdeen like that every single time?” “Have these people even been to Aberdeen lately to see what we have going on?” “Why is it always Aberdeen this and Aberdeen that?” “I get sick and tired of hearing it.”

Those are a few comments about how those insinuations were received in Aberdeen. As far as Okolona goes, I’m sure they appreciated it just as much.

I grew up in Aberdeen and have seen the changes throughout my life. Sure it has hit its lows and taken its punches, but as I tried to explain; alcohol didn’t do it.

In 1987, a social issue prompted my parents to transfer me from Aberdeen Elementary School to Oak Hill Academy. Eleven years later, another social issue lit the fuse, and more families progressively moved out throughout the years. Nobody mentioned alcohol playing a part either time.

Five years ago, Amory’s last alcohol referendum lit the fuse of a social issue. Here we go again with history repeating itself.

Dissect this column however you’d like but from my standpoint, it’s not about whether Amory’s still dry and wet today or what’s going on in Aberdeen and Okolona; it’s about how people should get along better with each other.

Oh, how people on both sides of Amory’s alcohol issue have voiced hurtful opinions for and against it and oh, the damage that’s been done in the process. The aftermath of this social issue was just as damaging five years ago.

I’ll be 100 percent honest with you by admitting alcohol used to be a big part of my weekends in my 20s, as it has been for several people in that age group throughout the years. I think I was about 30 when I pretty much grew out of it, and it’s very rarely I’ll have a drink now.

Even still, I try distancing myself from people who are obnoxiously drunk.

Alcohol can bring out a mean side of people. Alcohol can bring out a fun side of people. Alcohol can bright out a laid back side of people. Alcohol can make you fighting mad. Alcohol can bring out the true side of people.

The thing is, you don’t have to drink a single swig of alcohol for it to show the true side of some people.

Why is that?

Being 100 percent honest again, I’m not well-versed in the Bible. You can take some scripture and see the evil of alcohol and you can take other scripture to see how turning water into wine was a miracle.

I agree alcohol definitely has an evil side but have you stopped to think about how that side is showing itself through the divide this social issue has created? Again, nobody declaring Facebook war, passing judgment or being hypocritical had to take a single swig of it to partake in that kind of evil.

Whether you’re a whiz at Bible trivia or never made it past Genesis, everybody knows one decree laid it out plain and simple – love thy neighbor.

We don’t always see eye to eye on issues, but issues are something we can all step away from, so run away from this one, Amory, run.

By the time you’re reading this, you will probably know if this issue is over or if history may repeat itself again in another five years. No matter what, I challenge both sides to find common ground and come together to better Amory now and move it forward outside of this social issue.

At the time of writing this, I didn’t predict the end of the world no matter what voters decided, so it’s time to move on past the referendum and start living together in it again.

As I wrote about the need for civility five years ago, I’m preaching it yet again. There again, history always tends to repeat itself.

Ray Van Dusen is the managing editor of the Monroe Journal. He can be reached at ray.vandusen@journalinc.com.

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