Editorial: Solar eclipse unites Johnson County, if only briefly

For a little more than four minutes Monday, nothing else mattered.

Across Indiana and Johnson County, our eyes turned skyward as the moon moved across the face of the sun. The view was breathtaking, and for a moment there was silence.

Then there were cheers of joy as it set in that the moment of a lifetime was finally here.

Some shed tears at the beauty of the moment and the reminder that life is fragile and the sun is so key to our existence.

Thousands of people from across the county — residents, tourists and those just happening to pass through — paused and took off their eclipse glasses to marvel at the blocked-out sun and its corona during those few minutes of totality.

The moment left everyone in awe, but also served as a showing of something considered rare in today’s polarized world: unity.

During those four minutes, people of different beliefs, races, religions, communities, and more came together to experience the celestial wonder of the total solar eclipse.

It is often said by those in the national media that America is more divided than ever. It has also been said social media is an “echo chamber” which can lead to more polarization. NPR even reported in 2022 that the polarizing nature of social media was “speeding up,” and that algorithms tend to steer users toward outrage.

While these issues continue to come up — and sometimes are even debated — during the four minutes of totality they were on the back-burner. No thought about politics, division or the state of the world for those few minutes.

People were not on social media apps and websites to complain during totality. Instead, they used their phones to take pictures or videos of the eclipse.

Some didn’t even use their phones at all — instead taking a moment to just enjoy the cosmic wonder, or to share in the moment with the friends, family and strangers around them.

Although the eclipse has passed and the next chance for county residents to again experience something like this at home isn’t until 2153, perhaps it could serve as a reminder that, despite our differences and issues, there are still some things that rise above them all to unify us.

Let the total solar eclipse not be the last time you take a moment to unplug and connect with others. Being in nature, singing along with others at concerts, worshipping with others at church and volunteering are all ways to get the same type of outlet any day.

Though it is easier to sit and stew on things happening online or endlessly scroll YouTube or TikTok, getting offline and making these connections is worth the effort.

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