My dear friend Jim Clinton, who is CEO of the Cenla Advantage Partnership, wrote a stirring piece today that I wanted to share with you. (In case you are among the uninitiated, “Cenla” is Central Louisiana.)
He writes, in part:
A few minutes ago, I heard a cry, close to a scream. It was repeated and repeated again. Couldn’t tell if it was a child or a cat, but I don’t hear many cries from either here on the second floor of The Rapides Foundation Building. I went to my window overlooking Johnston Street. I was just in time to see a woman walking with two boys, ages approximately two and four. She was holding the smaller child’s hand and I watched, she hit him hard in the face. A couple more steps and she hit him again. Three more steps and a repeat. I don’t know how many hits preceded this.
“How do I work this?” I thought, referring to my conscience, my responsibility to civilization, etc. I shook off the cobwebs, ran down the stairs and into the street. I followed the threesome at some distance on Johnston towards the river. They boarded a shuttle and vanished.
Jim follows this with a meditation on his own relationship to spanking as a parent of grown children, who now has a later-in-life child to rear. He gives a wonderful explanation of how, and why, his views have evolved. I urge you to read it.
But it was the wrenching scene out his window that struck me to the bone. I know that feeling — knowing you need to do something, not sure you can, hesitating, and finally sometimes sadly missing out on the opportunity as it vanishes. How many times have we faced such a thing, and then recalled and relived the event, only this time with faster reflexes, or with surer voice? How many times do we replay what we wish we had said?
For me, the episode that stands out is a time long ago when I was in a position to hire someone. A superior convinced me to avoid the person I thought the best candidate because of something benign that came up in the applicant’s background during the interview process.
Fearful of making waves, I did not stick to my guns. I offered someone else the job, and they did great. But I lacked courage. This was a weak decision that haunts me even now — from which I try to learn daily and draw strength from. I hope never again to stay silent as I did.
I want to thank my friend Jim for reopening this doorway and spurring me to reflect on this episode, and allowing me to renew this intention.