My investigation and analysis of the leadership has been direct and forthcoming. I openly spoke out and validated the many concerns and fears expressed to me by locals. I even shared my own concerns and lingering questions. However, I recognized that none of these things may never be properly addressed if it was done in a combative or one-sided manner as has been done recently by other parties. I always insisted on creating an environment where both sides of these very complicated issues can be presented and listeners can hopefully be better informed and decide on their own what is and is not corruption or maybe an opportunity to see where they may have missed an opportunity to speak out as united citizens and voters and change laws that may have allowed lines to be inadvertently blurred. I also saw this as an opportunity for the leadership to see maybe where they may have missed an opportunity to hear dissenting views and find an opportunity to do something that will increase the strength of relations with those they serve and thus strengthen their community. None of these things have changed.
If we learned anything from recent events it’s what can happen if even a few dissenting or marginalized voices are ignored too long or left for other parties to take hold of and possible exploit. Whether or not their perceptions are accurate, failure to address it only slowly heats up a situation that begs and waits for a spark to release up its fury and cause things to go out of control and harming everyone in the process. I sought to address these issues, separate fact from fiction. Revelation from misunderstanding, social complacency from downright corruption. I had hoped and still do to not throw a match on the volatile situation but to offer the cool waters of reason to lay bare all the facts and begin to not expose the real problems but hopefully expose real solutions.
I’m sorry that it was a member of my own team and outsiders with their own agendas who sought a different road and short cut to what should now be clear, was never the solution hoped for but only the spark by some who only wanted to see a community burned down with complete disregard for the innocents hurt along the way. It is something that will grieve me for quite sometime and a painful lesson whose scar will be a long time healing.
Anger and frustration is reasonable even I expressed it, throughout this story. Others are now even working to dredge up those feelings or things said (tweets, chats, posts, etc)in the heat to the moment which I have apologized for long ago even to some personally but if unheard by some still I do so again now, I truly am sorry for any word I may have said then or recently that may have inadvertently confused, hurt or offended anyone. Please know my heart was never to see this city suffer but only see the burning questions answered once and for all even if by these protestors (later proven to have a different agenda) when given a golden opportunity to actually dialog and publicly with those they were protesting against and people’s minds at last be put at ease so that tensions may calm.
I don’t know if its their hope that an unintended intention will be read or old feelings in the past be dredged up so to create a new controversy and a new target to blame for the misery and escalation that they only have themselves to credit, or maybe they hope to deflect attention away from them or maybe it’s just never really got me and think that my initial efforts to reach out even to them when they arrived indicated I shared their goals, only they know what’s in their minds and what they hope to achieve by coming at me or other writers is such a way.
Let them, I have laid my feelings and heart bare here, online and on air. It’s always been a core characteristic of what I do. I’ve also laid open my errors when I became aware of them. It’s not about ego and gladly accept that I am not infallible. I never sought perfection. I only sought that what I present is done with due diligence, compassion and integrity. Due diligence is doing whatever is in your power to get the job done without shortcuts or complacency, compassion is recognizing that all you say and do will impact someone and that your words have the power to tear down quicker than it can lift up the lives and reputation of others and to be cautious when deciding which way to go. Integrity recognizes that despite all the due diligence given and all the compassion offered you may fail to achieve what you set out to do or still be the cause for the unintended harm of another and that as a result be willing to accept that responsibility and admit when you are wrong and work to fix whatever harm was caused. These are the qualities I strive to bring to my everyday life and my public one as well.
If my efforts as of late seem confusing or backtracking. If it seemed like I was ignoring the many pleas for help or answers, I hope that this will clear things up. It should be clear that I never wanted to see a community destroyed but rather strengthened. If there was ever a time that issues be set aside, at least for a time, it would be now.
I have no doubt that those who may or may not shown a shortcoming in their character or leadership style as well as those who feel the justified or unjustified pains of bitterness or marginalization still all have one thing in common, they love the City of Steubenville. They value the roots from which they came, they see something there that touches and comforts their hearts in a way that no others place can which is why they remain despite the many challenges and conflicts that may arise.
This city fell under siege by a group of anarchists looking to have somebody, anybody, to take their unrelated angst on, and any opportunity to feel some sense of power and voice they perhaps feel was denied them elsewhere. They were accompanied by an uninformed and misled mainstream media whose presence only magnified the problem more by provoking even more uninformed accusations at the city as a whole.
There may be those in leadership who may need to be humble and repair some unintended wrongs, or perhaps those who knew what they did and need to step down, there maybe those who are marginalized for reasons they may need to finally accept their own responsibility for or those who simply and tragically fell through the cracks if an imperfect system and needs a helping hand back into the light of justice. I can’t say which is which and even in my quest for answers I recognized those determinations and followup actions had to come FROM Steubenville not TO it. My hope has always been to provide everyone there with the needed information and dialogue to be able to do so with confidence and reason.
However, in light of recent harms and tragedies that have been heaped upon this city on top of the tragedy that first drew people’s eyes here, more has even been put at risk and more people have been made to suffer unjustifiably and for some their futures needlessly placed at risk.
Before all that may be wrong with Steubenville can be changed it should be clear that the first priority today should be to restore and preserve all that was right with it. To restore any harm to what is agreed by all to be the beautiful and most redeeming parts of this historical place, to come together and to not just restore and remember its beauty and charm but to revel in it, together. My hope is that by doing whatever I can to exhort efforts in that direction and rebuild broken walls around the city that the useless walls within it will begin to soften and hearts may be laid bare, away from the cameras. My hope is that people will being to remember that everyone needs to be involved in building a city and that all, not just a few leaders, need to be responsible and accountable for its future strength and integrity. This seems to me like the perfect starting point for any healing and repair effort.
These next words may not be politically correct of me to say but I’ll say it anyway, perhaps this can be an opportunity for an even greater moment. Perhaps despite what others in this secular world demanded of you in terms of outward identity (i.e. City Logo) need not impact your inner ones. That this once God-fearing town with its faith on the forefront of its logo will still be shown to be a full of God-fearing people with their faith on the forefront of their hearts and thus words and deeds. That through this, what the enemy intended to become a dark hole in a nation slowly loosing its faith, through its locals working together, will become the needed city on a hill that the faithful can look to and remember that all must work together to build not just a community but a nation and be inspired to take hold of the blessing that had rested and still does upon not just your city but our nation….A Nation Under God.
The God who will one day make all this go away. The God who will eradicate all the suffering with which we contend today. The God who will chase away fear and death themselves once and for all. Who will one day wipe every tear away and lead us at last to the fulfillment of His promise of eternal joy and peace. This is indeed my prayer.
This indeed is where I stand, on that hope and promise.