Opinion Columns & Blogs

Real community doesn’t live on the internet but right next door

I would like to note that Mercer University has scored a significant win on the hiring front that has not gotten as much attention as it deserves. Former Secretary of State Cathy Cox is going to become dean of the Walter F. George School of Law.

When I was in law school, I was the only student there who expressed an interest in election law. One of my professors, Jack Sammons, connected me with then Secretary Cox, whose elections division really helped educate me on the law. I wound up revising and updating a guide on election procedure for their office, which wound up proving very timely in the 2000 election.

I am a partisan Republican, though less so in the age of Trump, but a conservative nonetheless. Despite all that, I always voted for Cathy Cox and Zell Miller. It is a huge win for Mercer to have her level of competence and leadership in the dean’s office. She will also no doubt be a real asset to our local community.

Community is something I have been mulling over these days. I have written a new book that has nothing to do with politics, which made it a pleasurable exercise. Back in November, I wrote a small piece here recounting the year of turmoil in our home. A year ago next Friday is the anniversary of me being placed in ICU and nearly dying. Around that time, we discovered my wife had lung cancer. On top of all that, we had protestors show up at our home to harass us for not supporting the president. My kids were harassed over that as well.

I wrote that small piece with a few lessons I hoped my children would learn if I died before they woke. One of the lessons was remembering that community is their neighbor next door, not their chat buddy on the internet they never actually can break bread with. David Brooks mentioned that piece in his New York Times column. An editor at the publishing company Hachette read his column and reached out to me.

In October, they will release “Before You Wake,” my first non-political book and also the first book I have ever really enjoyed writing. It is one part life lessons, one part gospel call, and one part cookbook. I figure, in addition to needing my kids to know life lessons, if I kicked the bucket tonight they would need my gumbo and cinnamon roll recipes.

I have noticed more and more over the past few years that the most malcontented people I come into contact with have no real sense of community. They are all very tribal. They belong to groups that are single issue causes or cults of personality. Others are either on the team or opponents or, worse, enemies. Community cannot work that way. It must be bigger than cults of personality and single issues. Communities thrive on people who can get along even while disagreeing.

After Jesus cast the legion of demons out of the possessed man and put them in the pigs, the pigs ran off a cliff and drowned. What the Bible leaves out is that after the demons left the pigs, they all got Twitter accounts. Twitter and the internet are not community. The people around us in the real world. There is no good online substitute. It is great to welcome our former secretary of state to our local community and this past year has made me mindful I must make sure my kids learn the value of real community.

Erick Erickson is a Fox News contributor and radio talk show host in Atlanta.