Building others up rather than tearing them down

The city of Clinton and Sampson County are such special places, and we are reminded of it every day. While much of the country is dividing itself over politics and the fallout from very serious and tragic issues, people here are doing what they do best — working to make communities better for every citizen.

Here we understand the problems and try to rectify them by working hand-in-hand — blacks and whites, Latinos, Native Americans and Asians. We try to look beyond skin color, religious affiliation and economic status to the larger problems that exist — abused and neglected children, a growing opioid epidemic, feeding the hungry, helping the down-trodden, assisting those suffering from serious illnesses like cancer.

We aren’t immune to the problems we see on the nightly news, it’s just that our focus isn’t fixated there.

Just this week, alone, we’ve reported on many ways people of all races have worked together to help others. From the declining number of children in Sampson’s foster care program to the outreach of a group of “Shed Heads” who are setting an example even as they assist others with food, utilities and rent, positive differences are being made. And we are thankful we have the opportunity to spread that kind of good news around our community and beyond.

This week’s summer camp, hosted by the Clinton Police Department is yet another shining example of people more focused on helping others than looking for ways to divide us.

That camp, which will culminate this week with a community celebration or Block Party sponsored by Olive Grove Church, brought police officers together with a dozen youth, giving them eye-opening opportunities to learn about fingerprinting and drug addiction, to get important awareness and safety tips and to forge relationships with individuals they might, otherwise, have feared.

The camp brought all races together, and the exercises developed bonds of trust that will now be embedded in the minds of both the young people participating in the camp and the officers who stood side-by-side with them throughout the week.

It will also serve to strengthen the bonds between residents in District 5 and the officers sworn to protect them and all the other citizens in our wonderful city. Seeing officers working with young people is important; it humanizes them and reminds us all that they aren’t here to hurt but to protect.

“I don’t want the public to feel afraid to call on my officers,” new police Chief Donald Edwards said about the camp and the interaction between his officers and those in the community. “Our goal has been to have the kids work with law enforcement and build a trusting relationship with our officers.”

It is through actions such as the camp and the block party that trust is built, and once built it can be nurtured and grown, making it harder for communities like ours to be torn down.

In a world filled with rhetoric, anger and hatred, communities like ours that promote unity, service and love of one’s fellow man become beacons for others. At least we pray that is the case.