Coming together: There's still hope moving forward 2010.12.01

Television news reports about the Skelton boys show the kinds of heart-wrenching images we’re used to in these situations: concerned neighbors, candlelight vigils, volunteer searchers, glimpses of the community, all centered on just about the worst nightmare anyone can imagine.

Knowing that’s the picture America is seeing of our town, it’s easy to wonder what others may think, or even to question our own feelings about where we live. Isn’t Morenci supposed to be free of such terrors? Is it really the kind of place where frightening, unexplained things can happen to innocent children under our noses?

There’s still hope for a happy ending to the Skelton story, but there’s also fear.

Fear for the safety of the boys, and fear for our town, too. Many of us are apt to worry that things here have changed for the worse over the years, or that this crisis alters the character of our community. Some may see evidence that our society —even our small corner of it—is in decline or our values are in disarray. We’re prone to idealize the good old days, fret about the present and dread the future.

But look again.

Those scenes on TV are familiar because they show the way communities come together in a crisis. Morenci is no different from anyplace else. When tragedy strikes, we care, we give, we pitch in. Our character is not altered, it is revealed.

Bad things can and do happen anywhere. There’s no way around it. But as long as people respond with empathy and humanity, there is reason for hope.

Our thoughts at the Observer are with all who care about Tanner, Alexander and Andrew Skelton. From what we see, that includes every single soul in and around Morenci.