My life in the mountains has instilled in me the nagging need to make sure my neighbor is alright. From watching my parents checking on those living next to us just to “see how they are doing,” to driving out of the way to make sure family made it home when they do not answer the phone, I grew up in an atmosphere of concern for our neighbors.

It becomes more difficult as the years go by. Our own stress and concerns become so large that it seems impossible to allow other people’s stress to enter our lives. It takes a great courage to deeply care for others during these times in our lives. Our nation is hurting. In times like these it is especially hard not to dismiss your neighbor. There is so much to lose this way.

Southwest Virginia is a place that neighbors can rely on each other. We can not dismiss anyone as our neighbor. We are stronger and happier as a community when everyone feels like they can lean on that community. People of color, the working class, women, LGBT+ individuals, the impoverished and the disabled in this area are a part of our community and need to lean on us. This year, Virginia specifically will have many choices to make. It takes a great courage to raise your voice, march in the streets, show up, and vote with your neighbor in mind, however we must live with courage as a matter of habit.

DYLAN MABE

BIG STONE GAP

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