Bad company?

Why is it generally assumed that a “bad” influence is more powerful than a “good” one?

Parents often resist having their children play with or associate with the kids they think are - what?, not as good? not as smart? not as prosperous? not as religious? (fill in the blank yourself).

They profess, rather openly, that the “bad” kids might corrupt their own. Really? How? And why are your kids so susceptible to corruption? In never seems to occur to them that their very well raised offspring might provide a positive model for all of their peers, rather than just an echo chamber for the select few.

We shall skip all the notions of the power of temptation and just start with the assumption that “good” and “bad” are fairly equally distributed among our species, and that Mother Nature, if not our own, seeks a balance,

And so we ask, if a good person, place or thing can be persuaded to become bad, just by contact, why can't a bad environment evolve into a good one simply by exposure to the goodness?

How can we know what others know, or think, or believe, if we never associate with them? What are we afraid of? And how will what we know, think, and believe ever come to their attention if we don’t deliver it? And deliver it as a gift and not a demand?

For a long time, I followed the male standard of having a barber cut my hair. “Styling” was for the ladies. But, as times and fashions changed, I found some elevated self-confidence in having a more put-together look and began being attended to in salons.

A salon is decidedly not barbershop, and it is not only populated by ladies who also are self-confident, by also mostly by magazines that focus on their lives and interests. If a man wants to know what women want or need or care about, he would do well to hang out with them at the salon and read those magazines! Being not a bar or restaurant or party, it allows for mostly neutral communication and neutralizes the highly-charged atmosphere that mostly attends most male-female interaction.

If a man were to succeed at understanding this, it would very likely cause the women in his life to find him more attractive. A woman’s world can make a better man. But not if either or both of them feel threatened or superior or insulated.

It is simply a matter of equanimity and a desire to know more than you already do. To learn something you weren’t expecting to.

And so, if Polk County’s public schools superintendent travels to a national convention on the subject of schools, why would anyone presume it would have a corrupting influence on her? Why not believe that her professional history and experience and solid support at home would present itself as a valid and viable alternative - or addition - to the views and beliefs of the organization sponsoring it? Why would her mere attendance imply endorsement?

How would the group ever come to another point of view if they never hear one? If one doesn’t squeal when someone steps on their toe, how in the world would the offender have a chance to adjust their behavior and consider something they hadn’t?

We want Jackie Byrd to tell the conference how their strategy has - still - affects her - our - school district and its students and parents. If they don’t care or are unmoved, then they diminish their own validity. If one cannot listen and lean, one cannot last long in the conversation. If this entity closes itself off from career professionals who do not agree with them or adhere to their agenda, then they say much more about themselves than any of their detractors. Isolation does not foster evolution. Ms. Byrd can bring a counter view, but not if she does not attend.

E-mail the commissioners

But one at a time, please!


For the most part, when recipients open an email that includes others they are less inclined to take it personally. Make sure your message resonates by sending it to each commissioner separately.

Scott Franklin - Stephanie Madden -  Sara McCarley - Chad Mcleod

Bill Mutz - Bill Read - Phillip Walker

Each of these noble citizens represents all the rest of us. The four geographic designations - Northwest, Northeast, Southwest, and Southeast, etc. - apply only to the residency requirements for commissioners, not to their constituents. Bill Read, for instance, lives in the city's northeast quadrant and is likely to be more in tune with the businesses and neighborhoods in that area, but serves us all as our representative to the city management and staff.

It will always help to send your message to City Manager Shawn Sherouse  because it's his job to implement whatever projects, resolutions, and ordinances the Commission proposes in response to our communication.


State legislators representing Lakeland

Representative Colleen Burton

Senator Kelli Stargell