New Castle News Opinion

The immediate reaction is to call them powerful thoughts and images.

But in reality, that remains to be seen.

Wednesday’s Riverwalk Park gathering and candlelight vigil was billed as an event designed to bring healing to a community reeling from a string of violent deaths — including four homicides, three of which were committed against youths — in July.

And there can be no doubt that the night packed an emotional punch.

The mother of a 17-year-old homicide victim temporarily set aside her own grief to praise the coming together of the community.

The father of a slain 8-year-old stood side by side on the amphitheater stage with the father of the man whose son is charged with killing the boy.

And amid a national culture with an ever-widening gap between church and state, both local government and religious leaders turned out to share encouragement with the assembly.

And yet, if all the event amounted to was a cathartic experience for the processing of churned-up emotions, then it will have missed its mark.

A comforting feeling of unity should be only the beginning. Change must be the real take-away.

Speakers encouraged as much in both thought and action.

The Rev. Randy Crum quoted Scripture that urged people to turn to God.

New Castle Police Chief Bobby Salem called for an end to what he called a “stupid stop-snitching campaign, which only permits people from being locked up.”

District Attorney Joshua Lamancusa told a story about a battle between good and evil waging inside all people, with the moral that the side that will win will be “the one you feed.”

And while Wednesday’s event focused on the tragedies that beset Lawrence County last month, its lessons on togetherness have more than one application.

Perhaps nothing has divided the country — and Lawrence County — more than a political atmosphere that has abandoned healthy debate in favor of acrimonious name-calling and a rejection of compromise.

On Wednesday, we saw November’s opposing mayoral candidates, as well as the sitting mayor, all come together for their good of their community. That approach ought to infuse the entire political process, from New Castle, Pennsylvania, all the way up to Washington, D.C.

So, how powerful was Wednesday’s gathering?

Ultimately, that will depend on the people who attended, and what they do with what they heard.

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