Discarding the Seeds of Bitterness
Much has been written, discussed, and debated regarding the promise of our current administration of “fundamentally transforming the United States of America.” But while most discussion centers on the increasing size of government and the dependency on it, there is another segment this transformation that I believe is just as dangerous.
We’re bombarded daily with news designed to divide us. Ideological debate and differences of opinion are increasingly personalized and demonized, and there are times when I am convinced that the “transformation of America” is nothing more than a deliberate means to sow seeds of bitterness.
I recently heard a teaching sermon about handling bitterness in our lives. The point was made that sowing seeds of bitterness is a poison to our souls. Roots of bitterness can be so deeply buried in one’s heart and can tragically destroy individuals and their family. In the same manner, how is it not a poison to our nation, and a serious threat to destroy it?
Politically, this bitterness is an ideal means of keeping citizens at odds with each other so that those in power maintain control. But on a recent evening in Wilcox County, residents of diverse race, age, gender, income, and political ideology all came together in an ongoing effort to rid their county of corruption. Rather than allowing seeds of bitterness to take root and further divide, they are uniting to effect positive change for all.
Not only are these citizens meeting on a regular basis to discuss issues of corruption and mismanagement at the county level, the Impact Group of Wilcox has filed two lawsuits, one which details the findings of the Alabama Department of Examiners of Public Accounts and alleges the deliberate misuse of county funds which the county so desperately needs.
The suit details a pattern of fiscal abuse which includes: the operation of county vehicles for personal use with some commissioners using vehicles outside of the county; purchase of land without obtaining an appraisal; deficit spending from various county funds; creating positions outside of the commission authority; and commissioners who received water and garbage service but failed to remit payment for a full calendar year. In the case of the land purchase, the owner was the same
individual appointed to the created position. According to the suit, this individual “did not have an office or a job description, nor did he perform any work as part of that position.”
The problems in Wilcox County appear to be longstanding and this grassroots group knows that they are fighting a political machine that will not easily give up control. In addition to filing the lawsuit, they are working to educate the citizens of their county and expose the corruption, especially during this election cycle. Citizens are being encouraged to turn out to vote rather than simply accept that nothing will change. Will they prevail? Perhaps – perhaps not. They also know they are fighting a corrupt voting process with an excessive number of absentee ballots, a practice that is decades old and won’t be easily defeated. Although Wilcox County receives plenty of press regarding its dismal economic outlook, the mainstream media, in my opinion, has failed to bring adequate attention to the efforts of this diverse and determined group to fight the corruption that plagues their county.
So why do I bring up Wilcox County? Because the spirit of unity that was relayed to me by someone who attended that recent meeting confirms that people from all walks of life still care about exposing corruption at all levels of government. Given the demographics of that group, I daresay that they have differing party affiliations and likely disagree about other issues. But political corruption is never exclusive or limited by party line, nor does it resolve without exposure and action by an involved electorate.
Despite their differences, the citizens of Wilcox County have found common ground and are choosing to concentrate on solving problems rather than focusing on racial, socioeconomic, or other differences, real or perceived, that foster bitterness. The poison of bitterness has unfortunately turned us into a society that prefers to itemize and bemoan a perpetual and growing list of grievances instead of recognizing that our nation remains the dream of so many born elsewhere.
Perhaps we can all learn a bit from the unity demonstrated by the Impact Group of Wilcox.
Marcia Chambliss is the Alabama State Coordinator of Smart Girl Politics, a 501(c) (3) non-profit dedicated to the education and training of activists and candidates, and Smart Girl Politics Action, http://sgpaction.com/, a 501(c) (4) which focuses on conservative issues. She can be reached at: Marcia@sgpaction.com. Her views do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Smart Girl Politics Action.