Wednesday, December 27, 2017

An Awful Hole?

“Howard County was better without Columbia,”

—Man From Ellicott City who now lives in Florida

So reads the comment on a Facebook post from the Howard County Police Department about a Christmas Day stabbing at the Trellis Center on Hickory Ridge Road. Let’s play along. Imagine it’s 1967 and Columbia doesn’t get founded. In the perennial holiday favorite, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, Jimmy Stewart’s character George Bailey is in the throes of a personal and community crisis when he wonders whether his life is worth living. An angel-in-training, Clarence,  is sent to show him what life would be like if he had never existed.

What would Howard County be like without Columbia?

One clue is how excruciatingly long it took for the school system to implement school integration: eleven years after the 1954 Supreme Court ruling. That tells us that negative attitudes about whites and people of color learning together were deeply entrenched. Not to mention the founding of Glenelg Country School in 1958, a seeming “solution” to the “problem” of integration.

What would Howard County be like without Columbia?

More racist? Maybe. Less diverse? Almost certainly.

It’s uncertain whether many of the institutions we now rely on and enjoy would even exist in their present form today: Howard County Hospital, Howard County Community College, Howard County Library System, for example. These all contribute to our quality of life, whether we live in Columbia  or HoCo. It’s difficult to predict how long it would have taken for Howard County to be able to establish such thriving community pillars without the social and economic driver that was Columbia.

On the other hand, Howard County might be more rural. Bucolic? Pastoral? Perhaps that’s what Mr. Man from Daytona Beach, Florida is driving at. Would we look more like Old Ellicott City? Western Howard County? Elkridge?

That’s quite a few question marks.

What would Howard County be like without Columbia? Would it be better? Would no one ever get stabbed? Would the world be better if Columbia had never existed?

There’s evidently people out there who believe that. They’re entitled to their opinion. I’m certainly not one of them, however.

Clarence: [to George] Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?

What do you think?

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