Editorial: Jerry Smith

Introduction: Not too many weeks ago, this column set forth the sentiment that we are in a fight. One column was titled “A battle worth winning.” Events and observations of recent days have only amplified that position. This fight isn’t one with guns, tanks, bullets or planes. The fight is for what people in two opposing camps feel is right for the community in which we live.

There is not a need here to set forth the details of the differences between some members of Calhoun’s City Council and Mayor Jimmy Palmer, Councilman Al Edwards and others. In simple terms, the difference is over an effort on the part of Council Members David Hammond, Jackie Palazzolo, Matt Barton and devoted disciples to restructure certain aspects of the local government.

While a careful and detailed consideration of the effort to restructure the operation of the Calhoun government is interesting and very needful, it will not be the design of today’s column to do so. Rather, today’s remarks will consider the basis on which principles involved in the battle conduct their case. Many remarks will center on unfounded charges and comments directed toward the Calhoun Times Editor Brandi Owczarz.

Last Week’s editorial and article: There is no better place to start than to consider the outstanding editorial and the news article by Brandi in last Saturday’s (January 14, 2017) edition of the paper. That many have read those selections is evidenced by the enthusiastic and joyful comments I have heard from interested parties. And then there are those who opposed and commented on the articles. It will be the gist today for me to discuss many comments made and how far from legitimate discussion some of them are. But, I title my column “The Battleground of those who fight.” Without personal ill-feelings or dislike toward any, I do not hesitate to discuss that is involved in open and legitimate controversy.

Areas of battlegrounds: Physical battles (wars) are raging all over the world as I write. The needless loss of innocent lives is a matter of sadness to me. Then there are wars in spiritual matters. Surely we all have concluded that our war in local politics is minor compared to the wars for territories, philosophies and hearts in other parts of the world. In education, in sports and in governments, wars are raging. It is the manner of conducting these battles about which I want to discuss today.

Why am I concerned? The question of this writer’s involvement in our local controversy was presented recently. My involvement has nothing to do with personal dislike or ill-will toward any individual. It is much like an issue and my appearance I made before the City Council and a packed Depot a few years ago. I said to one and all in authority, “I know all of you well and I have loved all of you to various degrees over the years.” So it is today.

More than the issues or positions there is the matter of people I know, love and appreciate being attacked and I therefore enter the fray. It is observation and feeling the battle is not being conducted on a logical and legitimate basis; you will understand what I mean as you read on.

When friends from their youth (and from my adult years) are opposed on their position with which I am in agreement, I, as our former President Obama said, am drawing a line in the sand and will examine statements and actions – and not only examine but try to show citizens of Calhoun where it is felt the road advised in error.

There is our Editor, Brandi Owczarz, who several have accused of distorted, inaccurate and biased writing. Again, I ask all those who oppose reporting and positions advocated in the paper to name the erroneous or misinformation statements to send them in. I beg for them.

There is Mayor Jimmy Palmer, who I have known since his very young days. Add to that list Al Edwards, City Council member who graduated from Calhoun High School in 1974 in the class with my daughter, Summer Smith Mills. My friends are hurting and if there is the least bit I can do to alleviate their inward pain just a little, I am going to be there. I trust that which corner I have been in has been made clear over the past nearly five decades of writing.

Just what are “The Battlegrounds of those who fight?”

Life has allowed me to view from both up close and far removed controversies between disputants of various categories, with the majority being in the religious arena. One is led to think of those adversaries and their conduct when considering the attitude and actions of those today. It is a matter of amazement to compare their great attitudes with the attitude of those proposing a change in city government.

First, there is the battleground of ridicule. In the story from the Bible when Nehemiah returned to Jerusalem from exile to rebuild the wall of the city the first obstacle he had to overcome was the ridicule of others – both friends and foes. Another was the battleground of wrath and contempt. These are not imagined battlegrounds; they are seen in words spoken and written by many today.

All the above battlegrounds lead to the battleground of Mind Reading. It is remarkable how people feel they can proclaim what another person is thinking or how they feel. Sadly, many are not willing to discuss, or even mention, the elements of the disagreement. There is the action of assigning a position those with which they disagree. In the great debates of the last century the years demonstrated a willingness to face head on issues and controversies of the day. Meetings featured lively open forums in which differing issues were vigorously discussed. We learned that men of principle can deal with controversy with restraint and dignity while pressing truth and exposing error.

I borrow the title of Clark H. Pinnock’s book, the late scholarly theologian, who challenged, “Set forth your case.” No hiding, no backroom gatherings, but simple open forums providing transparency. Snide and sarcastic remarks and thoughts assigned will not get the job done. The Council meets this coming Monday. You are invited to come.