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A long night, lots to think about

A long night, lots to think about

Last night was one of those nights. That means today I’m running on caffeine instead of sleep. Normal bedtime, three or four hours of hard slumber, then wide awake, a stampede of thoughts, worries, ideas and plans racing around my head. Sometimes, like on this night, I give in to the insomnia and just roll over on my back and wait for the stream-of-consciousness parade to come to an end and hopefully get some more shut-eye. 

The weekend was beautiful, time spent with my son and daughter and their significant others, my wife Lori, lunch outside at a Sylva restaurant on a breezy and balmy Saturday after a stroll around the farmer’s market and the art market, after my daughter taking part in the Assault on Black Rock, urban biking in Asheville on Sunday and a meet up with my sister-in-law and nephew. Good times — normal times — in this beautiful place we call home.

And then — my own fault for perusing news prior to going to bed — my thoughts run to Ukraine, where mothers and babies and children are dying from bombs or falling buildings, where starvation and lack of water and food and health care are looming large for so many, where up to 3 million are fleeing the soldiers of one of this century’s madmen. Just weeks ago, those lives were much like mine and yours, people cherishing time with family and friends, perhaps a lunch outside or a concert at night, a weekend getaway.

The courage being shown by regular people — people living lives like me, my wife, my son and daughters, people like all of you reading this — to stand up to an army that is 10 times the size of theirs, to stand up to a despot with who has up to 6,000 armed nuclear warheads. An image flickered through from some newsreel of men and women filling sandbags and carrying them to the front line in some Ukrainian city, refusing to run. Their bravery is more than inspiring and so surprising, but I am fearful: sandbags against, perhaps, nukes. Surely it won’t come to that, right? 

I turn to this small business that we started 23 years ago, a small newspaper in a region of small towns and communities in a place I’ll likely call home for the rest of my days. If we were in Russia, I’d have been arrested years ago. I’ve never been able to keep my mouth shut or my writing bottled up when it comes to what I consider fundamental concepts like free speech, religion, the right to assemble, the right to think differently, the rights of those whose views are in the minority, the need for open and transparent government. 

I was weaned on the summer-time Watergate hearings when the eminent Sen. Sam Ervin of North Carolina gaveled a panel that eventually — along with the work of several fabled reporters — led to a president resigning in disgrace for abusing power. That event — Nixon’s eventual resignation for trying to use the powers of the presidency for his own personal re-election and then lie about it — reinforced in my adolescent mind that our system worked, that this country would not tolerate tyrants, that it was the people who hold the ultimate power. To me, our system held the moral high ground against despots.

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And so I feel an affinity for the Ukrainians and their fight. I’m jealous of the foreign correspondents over there reporting on this war and I’m inspired by the Europeans and Americans who want to enlist and take up arms. Ukraine has become a beacon of freedom for the entire world to see, to support, to emulate. Simply put, the Ukrainian people are straight-up badasses. I’m praying for them.

As I reach up to crack my window open on this mild early spring night, I remind myself that now, more than perhaps at any time in my life, I take comfort — even refuge — in being surrounded by family. I think of my own father and how as he aged, he grew so sentimental towards his children and their families, how he became more open to differing perspectives, more tolerant as life’s experiences piled up, more sure about what was right and what was wrong. As I ponder the beauty of that truth, comforting as it is, a few minutes of sleep come my way. 

(Scott McLeod can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..)

Leave a comment

7 comments

  • Beautiful message Scott.

    posted by Juanita Dixon

    Wednesday, 03/30/2022

  • Why are some Americans cheering for Russia to destroy the US along with every other democracy?

    posted by Mike Goodman

    Monday, 03/28/2022

  • Sorry Mary but newspapers today print fake news and are an extension of the rotten Democratic Party.

    posted by Lucille Josephs

    Friday, 03/25/2022

  • Heartfelt, eloquent essay, Scott. The power of newspapers in a democracy to do even more than keep citizens informed should be cherished.

    posted by Mary Curry

    Friday, 03/25/2022

  • I thought Mr. McLeod was speaking about the Ukrainian people.

    posted by Ron Morrow

    Thursday, 03/24/2022

  • I thought Mr. McLeod was speaking about the Ukrainian people.

    posted by Ron Morrow

    Thursday, 03/24/2022

  • Hey McLeod, did you know that it turns out that the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy is a despot too? Sorry to burst your bubble but he has arrested political opponents and then shut down opposition media. Lets hear the liberal leftist excuse for that one.

    posted by Lucille Josephs

    Wednesday, 03/23/2022

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