We tend to find what we’re looking for

Published 2:41 pm Monday, May 15, 2017

An Andalusia Star-News editorial called to my attention that an unfavorable article about Andalusia, accompanied by photos of mainly abandoned buildings, had appeared on a statewide website. My search for the article revealed that the reporter, looking for a local perspective on President Trump’s 100th day, focused on hard times some citizens and businesses have had and some are still experiencing. The Star News editorial expressed appreciation to Andalusia Mayor Earl Johnson who responded to the article. He pointed out some of the wonderful things about Andalusia. For example, there have been improvements downtown, the appearance of new restaurants, murals, and Candyland, which is attracting people from all over the state. I think almost anyone who knows of Andalusia sees it as a lovely small town with an abundance of civic-minded and caring people.

A few days after I read the Star-News editorial, I was going through a notebook filled with bulletins and newsletters from my late husband’s files when he served the Lillian United Methodist Church. In the “Pastor’s Corner” at the opening of one of the newsletters, he quoted some lines from “Stories for the Journey,” by William White. This brief folk tale reflects on Jesus’ Law of Love in Luke, Chapter 6. I do not think my turning the page to that newsletter was coincidental. I felt in some ways it addressed the topic of the editorial.

It told about a farmer working in a field when a stranger approached him. The man asked the farmer what kinds of people lived in the next town. The farmer, not missing a lick with his hoe, replied by asking him what kinds of people lived in the town he had just left. “They were horrible,” he said, waving his hand for emphasis. “They were dishonest, selfish and inconsiderate.” The farmer paused, looked up, and shook his head. “I am sorry to say that’s probably what you will find in this town, too.” The traveler moaned and walked away.

That same day, while the farmer continued to toil in the field, another man came down the road and stopped to chat. “What kinds of people live in the town just ahead?” The farmer, without looking up, replied with a question. He asked him the same one he had asked of the other traveler: “What kinds of people lived in the town you just left?” The stranger beamed and said that he hated to leave them. “They were thoughtful, friendly, and kind.”

At that, the farmer smiled, put down his hoe and extended his hand. “I am pleased to say that is about how you will find folks here.” The stranger smiled broadly, shook the farmer’s hand, and headed toward his new home.

I, like the editorial writer, would hate for those who saw the first article and not the one including the Mayor’s input, “to believe Andalusia is a ghost town rather than a city that honors its past and is working hard to insure a successful future.”



Nina Keenam is retired from the newspaper business. Her column appears on Saturdays.