The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Excelsior Springs Standard.

I lost a dear friend from home last week.

Buford Williams went to my church near Jonesboro, Arkansas. He was an interesting man. He couldn’t hear anything to save his life. At times, I could hear the feedback from his hearing aid from across the room. I still wonder how it didn’t drive his wife insane.

I spoke with Mrs. Joan last week. She and Buford were married 65 years and she’s lost without him. I honestly don’t know what I can do for her that’ll help. She asked for my prayers and she has those. It just doesn’t seem to be enough. Honestly, that’s the thought that bothers me the most. I’m a doer ... and I can’t do a darn thing.

Mrs. Joan is a woman of strength. She’s known for her orange Tic Tacs. Before church, she always goes to each member and visitor and gives them one.

I can still hear her, “Would you like a tic-a-tac?”

Bro. Buford loved to argue with me. You know how it is, there are certain older men who simply like to argue ... and love it when you argue back. I have a few of those here as well; they know who they are.

Everyone can learn one thing about this lovely couple who were married 65 years. They always treated everyone the same.

Don’t get me wrong, they had their opinions. Because I write the news, the majority of the world will never know what I believe politically. Sometimes, I talk in general terms, but I don’t get into specifics. I have as many people completely convinced I’m conservative as liberal. Unless we become good friends ... and I know I can trust you, you’ll never know the truth.

Buford and Joan, however, always talked about their political opinions. They didn’t shun anyone who disagreed though. That happened on a comment thread on The Standard’s Facebook page. The comments on a press release — a press release — shocked me ... and I’m not easily shocked. I’ve asked this question many times, and yet, I find myself asking it again. Why? What is the point?

A couple of weeks ago, a young friend of mine organized an anti-school shooting rally with her friends. Now, if you want a controversial issue that’s sure to bring differing opinions, gun control will do it. But, one thing struck me that day, everyone was respectful. I guarantee at least one person walking past disagreed, but no one argued. Was it because they were children?

Joan runs children’s church each Sunday. She loves every child that walks through the doors. She loves every child that doesn’t walk through the doors. Buford loved everyone too. Nothing seemed to matter to him, he treated everyone the same. She still does. Why can’t we do this?

I’m not suggesting we stop noticing each other’s differences, that’ll never happen. What I’m suggesting is we stop acting as if each other’s differences must divide us. Excelsior Springs contains people of different races, genders and economic groups. Residents hold different views on politics and religion. Those differences do not divide us ... and we shouldn’t let them.

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