Among the annual rituals here at The Facts is the annual Year in Review, which we published Sunday. We spend a good number of hours scouring stories from the previous 12 months to highlight the biggest headlines from Brazoria County, and it usually consumes more than 5,000 words by the time we have put it all together.
By the time we hit midyear, there usually is a theme that emerges, some pattern of stories or monumental events we know define the year we are about to finish. Often, those stories also set the stage for the year that will come.
Without question, state Rep. Dennis Bonnen’s rise and fall defined Brazoria County for 2019. For the extremists, it was a classic story of a couple of unsavory political characters doing battle; whether the “good guy” won depends on whose unsavoriness the person supports more. But it’s hard to say Texas is better off for having watched Bonnen’s fall.
Leafing through the bulk of the more than 4,000 pages The Facts printed last year brought forth another disturbing series of events that, as they were spread across 365 days, might not resonate the same way.
Brazoria County has seen a disturbing number of high-profile homicide and sexually based cases.
That might just be a consequence of growth. A population increase will mix in more unpleasant types among the masses, even if the ratio of them remains the same. But entering my 18th year here, it’s safe to say it seems violent deaths are increasing.
It would be a mistake to blame the influx of new residents, though. Most of the cases involved our native sons and daughters with no other consistent characteristics. The violence crosses races, ethnicities, geography and ages. The manners of death include shootings, stabbings, shaking and strangulation.
Even the motivations have varied. Domestic violence is responsible in some cases; others are drug-related — either because of use or their commerce. Some just speak of the evil that dwells in some men’s souls.
It should be noted some of the killings that shocked and saddened people happened in previous years and just made it to trial in the year that just ended. The slow-moving wheels of justice enhance the perception that Brazoria County is experiencing more fatal violent crimes, but perception just might be reality.
SORRY TO HEAR
One of the moments that has stuck with me from recent weeks happened in a rather innocuous way.
Walking through the buffet dining area to get a beverage, I passed a table where three generations of family members were sitting. The grandmother had just put two dollar bills down for the tip, and her grandson of maybe 8 or 9 asked why she had chosen that amount.
“Because that’s a lot of money to those people,” the grandmother replied.
That set off the grandson on a series of statements based on the “those people” part of his grandmother’s statement, about how $2 isn’t very much money really, but they probably will feel rich getting that amount.
Of course, most of the workers on cruise ships are from other countries. On this particular ship, Malaysia and the Philippines seemed to be the most common nations of origin, and having talked with some of them on that cruise and others, most of them signed up for a far-from-glamorous life at sea to raise their families out of poverty.
A young woman working as a waitress on a previous cruise we took told us how she sent most of her wages home to her family in Manila. Not only was it their main source of income, but it was allowing her younger brothers to further their educations. Her sacrifices would lift her family out of poverty.
The grandmother did her grandson a disservice by portraying “those people” as lesser than he because they come from poverty. No person should be considered less human or worthy because of coming from lesser means. We’re all God’s children.