MY WORD: We must embrace our change

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By Sherry Hendricks

I guess it’s the writer in me that notices when words are misspelled, when the incorrect form of a word is used or when the correct pronunciation or spelling is elusive or murky. A case in point is how to spell the word “cancelled.” Or is it “canceled?” I’ve noticed it used both ways, especially on TV news when reporting changes in airline flight schedules.

I looked it up and apparently the word has been changing in the United States over a period of years, though there are a variety of reasons provided as the explanation. American English has only recently adopted the 1-l spelling of canceled, although the alteration is not fully ingrained in the American language. Good grief! Word usage and spellings can sometimes be about as confusing as the “Who’s on First” comedy routine and just about as ridiculous!

There has been a long-standing disagreement about whether or not the English language should change at all. There are the purists on one side, and others insist that the language should change with the culture. I guess if our language never changed, we would all still be speaking the King’s English. Durst I say it? I beseech thee my brethren, for nary a word shouldst thou alter as thou dost venture to establish the English language as pure and resplendent. Yea, embrace it with thine heart.

Well, maybe some change is a good thing!

But there are times when the change that comes upon us is more serious and is so instantaneous it leaves us in a paralyzing fog or we’re left feeling a deep, unexplainable hurt. That is what happened on March 6, when the fire along the 600 block of Shelbyville’s Main Street burst onto the scene and affected so many lives.

People were affected in different ways. The loss of property, whether through flames, falling rubble or smoke damage as the thick cloud infiltrated buildings unaffected by the fire otherwise, caused a financial loss that some will find difficult to overcome. Many lost their livelihoods; others lost their places of residence as well as their possessions, mementos and keepsakes.

People in the community feel the change in their beloved hometown. The ambiance of this quaint, turn-of-the-century treasure has changed forever as the gaping hole in the town’s scenery looms large in their psyche. Memories of good times had with friends and family over the years, which revolved around their favorite establishments, are bittersweet as the remaining pieces of the buildings are scooped up and hauled away. Even casual observers realize the loss and are touched by it.

But in this whirlwind of change, one feature stands tall as we attempt to resist the transformation occurring before our eyes. We, the residents, citizens and neighbors of this community can resist changing as we lend a collective helping hand to those who felt the devastation the most. Don’t forget the welcoming feeling when you first became a part of this community or when neighbors helped you with your all-consuming project or the rejoicing of family and friends when your child was born. Remember the good people of this county and respond to needs when you get the chance.

If you personally know one who was affected by the fire, do what you can to help whether it be financial, holding his or her hand and giving a shoulder to cry on or by just being a friend with a listening ear. If a plan is developed that offers an opportunity to help raise money for those altered by the fire, consider joining the effort. Also, there may come a time to help with the cleanup or restoration, or opportunities to voice ideas on how to rebuild the area.

As I said earlier, change can be a good thing. There were times in the past when fire or natural disaster changed the landscape of downtown Shelbyville. The people who lived during those times persevered and worked diligently to leave us the town we know and love. I guess I’m suggesting that we stand firm in who we are, in how we always have been – Shelby Countians who shine in the best and worst of times.


Sherry Hendricks is a freelance writer who lives in Shelbyville.