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Stepping into the light is painful when darkness is your friend
A Column by the Editor
posted April 9, 2010
COLUMN – Economic Development
Partnership’s Fred Humes made a statement more than once that just did
not seem to register with the tenured members of the Edgefield County
Council. One of the issues causing industry leaders to turn away from a
county is the “quality of elected officials”.
He mentioned once that
the industry leaders reading media accounts about how the elected
leaders govern is also a factor. Of course, to those same members, that
meant Edgefield Daily was to blame for all of our problems.
Yes, in that single statement they discovered the reason Edgefield
County has lagged behind other counties in the state for the last two
decades, Edgefield Daily. Oddly enough, Edgefield Daily has only been
around for a little over five years but has hampered our county from
growing for twenty.
I took a far different understanding of Mr. Humes’ remarks. He
was explaining why the county is paying for his services, that any
industry looking at Aiken County also looks at Edgefield County, and
the industry is just not locating here.
It seemed, in my opinion, like a nice way of him saying, “don’t blame
me, it’s your fault because you are dysfunctional.”
Maybe I’m reading more into his words. But why else would he bring up
the issue of the “quality of elected officials” repeatedly?
I’ve said that for years.
Any successful business or industry leader that sat through a county
council meeting would walk out and never return because of the regular
embarrassing outbursts and illogical reasoning the majority uses to do
the illogical. Citizens attending the meetings often roll their eyes,
shake their heads in disbelief of what they are witnessing, and have
been openly mocked for doing so during the meetings by council members.
However, according to the majority and the inside political class,
accurately reporting the content, quotes, actions, and decisions of the
meetings is “negative reporting”.
Truth is now classified as “being negative” and the person telling it
is the enemy.
Forget the failed policies over the past twenty years. Forget who has
been in control the last twenty years. Forget that the agenda has not
changed in twenty years. Forget that the same “political class” has
influenced and controlled the agenda from the sidelines.
Forget all of that.
Blame me because I walked in the room over five years ago while most of
the county was stumbling around in the dark and turned on the light.
Doing so has been painful.
In 1998 I was blinded in one eye in a freak accident. At the time, and
following the subsequent surgeries, I was blinded totally though I
still had one functioning eye. I was in the dark. I could only hear,
smell, and touch the world around me.
I still had the ability to function within limitations. But the world
around me was a vast expanse of darkness.
Once I was released from the hospital and returned home, my world had
to remain dark even though I had regained my vision in my one remaining
eye. Blinds were kept shut, lights were turned off, and sunglasses were
still required inside because I had adjusted to a world without the
If I was sitting in a room and someone entered and, out of normal
reflex, turned on the lights it was painful to me because I was not
accustomed to seeing the world around me with the lights on. It took a
long time to readjust from darkness to dim lights in a room to brighter
lights and even longer to adjust to the light of a wonderful spring day.
But in time I came to appreciate the light and to bathe in the clarity
it provided in my vision and the ability to see again.
That is what I believe happened to Edgefield County in a general sense.
For twenty years the same people have been in control of not only the
political power in the county but also the media, with one political
insider even buying one of the local print media to control the content
disseminated to the public for a long period of that time.
Residents were basically feeling helpless, much as I did when I was
blinded, and adjusted to the darkness. And rather than slowly opening
the blinds and venturing into the light, they felt comfortable
remaining in the dark. Trust me; it was far more comfortable to stay
there myself, as light was my enemy.
It caused pain, discomfort, headaches, and at times forced me to recoil.
In the past five years the people of Edgefield County have begun to
open the blinds, change out the low wattage bulbs for brighter ones,
and are stepping into the sunlight with sunglasses.
Yes, it has been a painful process for all of us - the political class,
the media, and the regular citizens alike.
There have been more candidates seeking office against the tenured
elected officials in the past two elections than there have been in the
last two decades combined.
The “Sunshine” laws have taken their rightful place. Government
transparency is not only expected but also demanded. The general public
is now able to see the world around them, navigate through it, and
change the obstacles that have prevented us from advancing out of our
We have walked out of the comfort of our darkened home already. Now let
us remove the hat that shields us from the sunlight and then remove the
shades that cover our eyes and bask in the beauty of truth in God’s
Yes, it has been a painful process. But it is well worth it and we will
be better off because of it.
I will never forget the day that I walked outside of our dimly lit
home, removed the hat, removed the sunglasses, and proclaimed, “Thank
God I can see again!”
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