My mother has always said, “As long you’re doing right, nothing else matters.”
Growing up, I understood this adage as a reinforcement of the Ten Commandments, a reminder to strengthen one’s resolve and take the narrow road; I was raised in a loving albeit strict household that both subliminally and bluntly — and seemingly constantly — emanated messages of keeping the faith.
However, in adulthood, I realized that this pearl of wisdom extended beyond our traditional Catholic household and into all areas of life.
Of course, doing what is right often is subjective — as is telling the truth, if you believe perception is reality. Occasionally, local newsmakers praise us for “telling the truth” in an article they find flattering and criticize us for “always not telling the truth,” when they find the article critical. Meanwhile, news organizations merely gather input, in good faith, from as many sources as possible — which is not the same thing as telling the truth since each source holds a different truth.
Sounds like something Oprah would say, about finding and living your own truth, but look around — that’s what people do!
But I digress.
Mom’s saying reminds me that strong people — those who face ridicule and persecution for expressing a belief or supporting an unpopular cause — stand for something.
The saying comes to mind following community activist Mae Reatha Coleman’s request to remove the Confederate flag flying at the William “Uncle Bill” Lundy Memorial.
Since we reported on that Sept. 9 city council meeting, we’ve received an avalanche of comments on crestviewbulletin.com and our Facebook page. A majority of our most vocal readers supports the Confederate flag, sees it as a symbol of southern pride and says they’d mourn for it if it were removed. Dissenters say flying the flag today means supporting the culture and causes, namely slavery, from earlier times.
For the most part, readers engaged in a civil, robust discussion on a complicated issue. However, some people viciously attacked the messenger and not the message.
I won’t opine on whether the Confederate flag should fly; you’ll see plenty of readers debating that issue on today’s Opinion page. However, let me say that Coleman showed tremendous courage addressing a concern on such a contentious issue.
This week, she’s standing up again, putting feet to pavement and going door to door, requesting donations to save Crestview’s bus routes. The Okaloosa County Board of Commissioners started the month with a 60-day challenge to the Hub City: come up with a plan to help pay for Routes 11 and 12 or lose the routes.
What a difference a week makes. Last week, a number of our readers roundly chastised Coleman for her concerns about the Confederate flag. This week, several have praised her efforts to save Crestview’s most affordable public transportation.
Public reaction also has been hot and cold for Crestview Police Chief Tony Taylor, who has earned the News Bulletin’s admiration for making promises to revive the troubled Crestview PD — and delivering.
Since Taylor took over, the CPD extended administrative office hours to Friday, it further increased transparency with “Coffee with a Cop” and it’s collaborating with the Crestview Fire Department for a Citizens Safety Academy, which will empower residents to help make our community safer. He likely will move the P.J. Adams Parkway dispatch communications center to the Stillwell Avenue administrative office, pending the city’s budget approval, and he’s working on getting the CPD accredited.
Residents lauded such strides until this month, when they learned that Taylor fired two officers who helped falsify police reports, according to an investigation following former Maj. Joseph Floyd’s recent trial and racketeering conviction.
Most of our vocal readers have said the officers were whistleblowers who, despite their earlier actions, saved the police department; they are heroes who should have kept their jobs, supporters say.
However, Taylor did the only thing that he could do to bring respectability back to the Crestview PD. He learned, as he stated in a news release, that the officers’ actions violated CPD, City of Crestview and Florida policies and statutes.
And he did what Floyd didn’t do. He looked at just the facts, didn’t play favorites — unpopular as that action has been — and attached unavoidable consequences to documented actions.
Yes, Mom’s saying reverberates as community leaders have stepped up these past few weeks to do what rings true, facing the challenges and scrutiny that come with taking that narrow road.
Email Crestview News Bulletin Editor Thomas Boni, firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet him @cnbeditor.