Are we willing to be honest with ourselves?

Dear Editor,

From time-to-time Iíll read editorials written that express concern about the state of Bamberg County and /or the municipalities within the county. If all of us are willing to be honest with ourselves, we know where we went wrong. Our county is hardly different from most southern rural communities. Whites deny racism and Blacks blame almost all of our failures on racism. Both are equally dangerous.

Then there is the whole political game. Douglas and I know why we have never been able to get elected to anything. We are simply not political material. We genuinely want to make a difference in our community without expecting anything in return other than positive results from our work. Naively though, we thought citizens wanted our leadership. We finally came to the realization that Blacks thought we were too uppity and Whites found us (mostly me) to be too ďthreateningĒ. We couldnít be controlled. Politics, power and money will almost always be the divisive lines between failure and progress. Politicians, their supporters and constituents are going to have a common thought process when it comes to decisions. It generally does not matter if the decision is right, wrong or just downright ignorant. Constituents generally follow the head politician in charge. Frankly, the average voter does not care about the issues that can make or break a state, county, town, school, etc. Nor or they interested in becoming educated about them.

Most of us donít attend council meetings or school board meetings because we believe those that we have elected to represent us will do so in our best interest. Sometimes they do and sometimes they donít. Some decisions are made for personal gain. Some are not. No political leader is an expert on every issue. Hopefully, those who are not sure how they should support an issue will seek good advice. Sometimes the advisor too has ulterior motives and advises accordingly. All of these uncertainties play a role in the predicament that Bamberg County has found itself.

We are still fighting about the hospital issue. The short answer to why we lost the hospital is simple. We were not willing to compromise. County Council and the hospital board made decisions according to the voices of their strongest constituents. It was unrealistic to think that each person on council would not vote according to the wishes of those who voted them in office. Thatís how politics works. No one person on county council is responsible for the demise of the hospital. There were a number of contributing factors that we ignored for years. We are still choosing to ignore them.

The next big fight will be the school district. Although I donít have any children enrolled in the district, I am still a tax paying citizen who has the right to voice my opinion. The school board is divided and pushing agendas that are ultimately going to backfire on all of us. Obviously those who were elected to serve on the school board did not learn anything from what happened with the hospital.

While, I am all for better parking and another grocery store in Bamberg, those are not our real issues. If they were, we would have parking and another store. When another grocery store investor sees the opportunity for success in Bamberg, they will invest in one here. Like my beloved alma mater South Carolina State University, until we are willing to take an honest look at ourselves individually and carefully, we will continue to place the blame of our demise on everything except what it is. We are a bunch of selfish and self-righteous people who spend a lot of time seeking revenge rather than seeking compromising and workable solutions.

Lisa Brown Stokes, Retired Teacher/Coach, Bamberg South Carolina