Turtles can bring us together


I joined my community’s Facebook group during this spring’s (failed) school bond issue campaign. I got what I expected – passion, distorted facts, backstabbing, a bit of solid information, outside interference, neighbors attacking neighbors – the usual school issue election stuff.

I added a few comments about outside interference in the levy campaign, which irked me. I saw it as the local equivalent of Russian interference in our nation’s 2016 presidential election. People with a hidden agenda and no legitimate stake in what’s being voted on. Get out of my ballot box.

Joined the group for the levy, stayed for the snippets of community life. There are tales of good and bad experiences with local merchants and restaurants, advice sought on home repairs, questions about local laws and ordinances, and an endless number of posts that start “Did anyone hear that boom near (fill in the location)?”

Some of the comment threads went way off track, many of them veering into snark or outright negativity.

My comments didn’t change anything, but did shed light on the interlopers, so that was good.

Shifting gears: One day I was driving into town and a woman was in the road, holding up her hand to stop traffic. At first I thought she was picking up some debris, then realized she was on a rescue mission.

A box turtle was being saved.

She was instantly a hero to me. I’ve stopped countless times on countless roads to move countless turtles to safety. I’ve liked turtles since boyhood, and kept a succession of store-bought turtles in a flat yellow habitat until salmonella threats took turtles out of the pet stores.

That woman deserved recognition, so I posted to my community’s Facebook group: “A shout-out to the woman who stopped traffic on (the highway) Friday morning to rescue a box turtle. Good work!”

My post got 31 comments and 244 reactions, and what struck me was that all the comments and reactions were … positive. Good-natured. Nice.

Have we fallen so low that nice Facebook comments about a box turtle rescue are worth noting?

Yes. Yes we have.

One person commented, “Second shout-out to all the people who commented positively on this post. Look at that – no sarcasm, cynicism, or meanness!”

Look at that. If you catch someone doing something good, it’s still appreciated.

Maybe turtles can bring us together. The rescued rescuing the rescuers. There’s hope for us yet.


Gary Presley

Contributing columnist

For fellow turtlemaniacs, there’s good info at http://www.boxturtles.com/, and also an interesting story about box turtle preservation and the dogs trained to help at https://bit.ly/2QU99dt. Gary Presley is the pagination director for AIM Media Midwest. You can reach him at [email protected].

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