Finding Focus with Wes Brooks: Hold on, consider...


For my column this week, I’m listening to a band I’ve only recently considered—The Killers. Specifically, I’m locked in on their single “All These Things I’ve Done” from their 2004 debut album, Hot Fuss. I recall when this Las Vegas band broke onto the scene, but I didn’t give them my ear because I’d preconceived this notion that they were too modern. That’s to convey to you (as much as it pains me to print in ink) that I guess I now have to say that my taste in music are what most would call “classic rock,” i.e. for the most part, I quit caring about new or emerging artists about the time buying tangible copies of music became passé.

I mention all of this because it opened my eyes to something bigger that I’m more guilty of than I’d realized—being inconsiderate. To be clear, I don’t mean that I’ve suddenly realized that I’m not nice to people—not at all. I mean that I’m finding that I’m more set in my ways than I thought and I’m not as open to contradictory opinions or ideations as I once was.

Guns/no guns, Christian/atheist, Republican/Democrat, CNN/Fox News… has there been a time when our society was this polarized? Have I been asleep at the wheel and just didn’t notice until now?


When there's nowhere else to run

Is there room for one more son?

One more son

If you can hold on

If you can hold on, hold on

I want to stand up, I want to let go

You know, you know

- no you don't, you don't

I want to shine on in the hearts of men

I want a meaning from the

back of my broken hand

Our Nation’s second President, John Adams, said, “There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution."

I have to say, I agree with you President Adams. Unfortunately, that is exactly where we appear to be.

Another head aches, another heart breaks

I am so much older than I can take

And my affection, well it comes and goes

I need direction to perfection, no no no no

I’ve intentionally made myself seek out popular pundits who I’ve always thought had nothing redeeming to offer because of their views on a particular subject. Let’s take author, philosopher, neuroscientist, and staunch atheist, Sam Harris. Now, this is probably a vast oversimplification, but Harris believes that anyone who believes in a higher power or deity is a fool. Knowing this, it’s easy to expect that any person of faith would give Mr. Harris no quarter. I know I did. However, it was only after I made myself give him a chance that I found he actually had some philosophical perspectives that proved we could find common ground. 

“Consider it: every person you have ever met, every person will suffer the loss of his friends and family. All are going to lose everything they love in this world. Why would one want to be anything but kind to them in the meantime?” –Sam Harris

That’s a point of view worth considering, right?


Yeah, you know you got to help me out

Yeah, oh don't you

put me on the backburner

You know you got to help me out

I got a soul, but I’m not a soldier

I got a soul, but I’m not a soldier


I’ve never publicly claimed to be Republican or Democrat. There are facets of both I agree and disagree with. If forced to give myself a label, I’ll take the one our current Mayor adopted in the last election—Independent. I don’t think he would’ve won had it been a right vs. left campaign. I think he won because did an excellent job conveying that he is considerate of everyone, and promised that if we all work together Hattiesburg can be a much better place.

And he’s doing a pretty darn good job living up to that. Need proof?

Let’s set aside the fact that every few weeks Mayor Barker sets aside an afternoon or morning of unfettered access at varying coffee shops and eateries so that we, the Hattiesburg community, can engage him on whatever issues we may be having. Now, let’s look at the school bond vote that took place Tuesday.

Mayor Barker hit the internet and airwaves to tell us all that it was coming and why it deserved our attention and support. How did the community respond? With 93.97% of voters backing his call to arms.

Side note: In regards to socialism, I’ll offer that I share former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s sentiment that “the trouble with socialism is that, eventually, you run out of other people’s money.”


Over and again, last call for sin

While everyone's lost, the battle is won

With all these things that I've done

All these things that I've done

(Time, truth, hearts)

If you can hold on

If you can hold on


That all to say I hope we can all pause for a second for someone outside your comfort zone, erase any preconceived notions and labels you may have assumed for them, and give their point of view consideration. I bet we’re more in the middle than public opinion would have us believe.

While I’m on the topic, I hope you’ll consider attending a really special event on Saturday, June 7 that’s uniquely “Hattiesburg”—The Best of the Pine Belt Awards Show. Thousands of you voted on the best “who” and “what” our community has to offer and the results will be announced that night. There’s singing, dancing, comedy, improvisation, food, and drinks. I guarantee you see something that’ll make you stand up and cheer.

Go to and buy your tickets now! You may even see someone you recognize in the opening act. (wink wink)

P.S. I apologize in advance for the guitar player in the opening number.


When he’s not rocking his socks off, Wes Brooks spends his days as the Development Coordinator at the DuBard School for Language Disorders at The University of Southern Mississippi.