Working in the newspaper industry, it’s easy for one to become cynical, especially when covering the courts. And if it weren’t for the month of December, it might be a cynicism too hard to shake off.
It doesn’t help that 2016 has been a particularly rough year as far as crime in Madera County goes.
This year, the paper was there to cover a Chowchilla police officer accused of rape, and a pregnant woman who got behind the wheel of a car drunk, and took the life of an immigrant man celebrating his anniversary. In another incident, two men pled guilty to a 2015 homicide, in which a reformed gang member was gunned down in a drive-by. The year has been capped off by the controversial acquittal of a woman accused of shaking a baby and, most recently, an elderly woman killed in a dispute in North Fork. These are just some of the stories it has been my duty to report.
When one leaves the courthouse after covering such stories, depression and anger can quickly set in. In those rooms, the worst of mankind is put on display, and by day’s end, it’s easy to want to give up on the species altogether.
Then comes Christmas.
Just as I was reaching this point, December arrived, and with it, a flood of new stories. In giveaway after giveaway, community meal after community meal, I have watched the people of Madera and Madera County pour out the support and care they have for their fellow man, and my optimism has slowly started to return.
Watching children at an elementary school get a Christmas dinner and a free book, or seeing 120 third graders charging towards new bikes, courtesy of a church (and helmets from the California Highway Patrol), one can not help but feel the joy of not only the season, but those on the receiving end of the gift, as well. Seeing a child yell: “I finally get my own bike,” and others hopping up and down on their seats, unable to contain their excitement is an annual reminder that despite the horrible things that people are capable of, people also are capable of showing immense generosity, and decency. Suddenly, the worst of mankind is counterbalanced by the best of it, and it’s everywhere, thawing away my cynical spirit.
Now, if we could just bring that out for the other 11 months of the year.
Donald Promnitz covers law enforcement for The Madera Tribune.