Showing respect to leaders

Published 9:19 am Wednesday, April 3, 2013

To the editor:

I was born and raised in Polk County.

I love this county. I love conversations about making it better.

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The people, communities and spirit of this county have taught me how these conversations can be fruitful. I was taught by many in this county, especially my parents, to respect my elders and those in authority.

My parents raised respectful, obedient, caring and hardworking children. I could never thank them enough for the example they set forth. But they had help. It truly does ‘take a village to raise a child.’ Many villagers raised a community of children in Polk County when I was growing up here in the 70s and 80s. Teachers, principals, club leaders, school teachers, bus drivers, church leaders and neighbors (many of whom were the same person) modeled respect and courtesy. I learned to encourage others in their jobs, talents and gifting. I learned to appreciate the wisdom and knowledge of my elders.

The depth of this teaching surfaced when, as an adult in my 30s, it finally occurred to me that just because someone was older than me did not necessarily mean they were wiser than me. Though there was truth in that revelation, it is still an important part of my value system to respect my elders and those in authority. They almost always had some wisdom to impart and I needed the humility to seek it. I learned humility here in Polk County too, from a very wise and caring high school teacher. I learned it was always better to show respect.

All of this is to say, it grieves me to read our local publication and see Polk County citizens tearing apart fellow Polk County citizens, especially our leaders. I believe we are better than this. We all have a right to vote and we have elected our leaders. It is my belief that we, as citizens of this county, now have the responsibility and should have the respectability, to support them. It does not matter if you agree with everything they decide; they are our leaders.

If I were to publicly demean one of our leaders, I would fully expect my third grade teacher, my elementary school bus driver, my high school principal or a host of other mentors in my life to call me on the carpet for it. I would be humbly in their debt for holding me accountable to a higher standard of citizenship.

I tend to ‘turn off’ people who are negative and critical while wanting to listen to those who are positive and encouraging. Maybe that is just me? I read a statistic one time that said it took 10 positive, encouraging remarks to undo the emotional damage of one critical comment. Think about that the next time a judgmental or negative remark is about to spill from your mouth.

I truly believe the overwhelming majority of Polk County citizens have good hearts. I believe our council members, mayors, commissioners, law enforcement officers and community leaders desire to serve the best interests and safety of Polk County and its citizens.

Pray for our leaders, encourage them. Find something you agree about or have in common and have a conversation with them. If you disagree, try to see things from their perspective by listening and understanding. Wait for an appropriate, private opportunity to respectfully share your perspective and understanding of an issue. Be an encourager to our leaders. Speak positively about finding the correct direction for our county. Personally, I want to work 10 times harder for someone when they encourage me. I am quite sure our county leaders feel the same.

Humbly and respectfully a Polk County native and citizen.

– Dawn Calton Jordan, Green Creek