My husband and I attended a concert for our children several years ago when a woman came over to us and blurted, "You should be ashamed of yourselves!"
This was a woman who we'd known only casually from the neighborhood; her daughter attended our kids' school, she lived a block or so away, and we knew her face and her name but not much else.
At the time, my husband and I were both elected officials on our Local School Council. The school was dealing with a principal who was struggling, and we on the Council were struggling to manage the situation. We were working through a bureaucracy of rules and regulations, mindful that the children needed their school to function at its very best, teachers needed an appropriate environment in which to work, and the principal, however unfit for this particular job, deserved fair treatment and consideration for his career and his livelihood.
There were forms to complete and a process to follow that was lengthy and onerous. There were those who were vehemently for and others passionately against just about every effort we made. And while all this swirled about there was a bit more. Unknown to many in the school at the time, the principal's wife was very ill. They had no children, no help as far as we could tell, so he was working extremely hard to take good care of her while holding a position of considerable pressure and responsibility. All this while under the intense scrutiny of a committee-based performance review. It was not an easy situation.
Ultimately, he didn't wait out the process and found himself another job. By all accounts he's doing just fine there, and our old school is also doing fine, with an excellent group of people on the local school council, and an outstanding principal.
The woman who came over to us at the concert was clearly agitated, having convinced herself that whatever the problems were, our magic wands were not being put to good use. She felt comfortable berating us in front of our parents and friends, along with everyone within earshot - quite a few people - as if our positions somehow provided carte blanche for this exercise. She insisted we were letting down the community, we should be ashamed - she threw that in a few times - and then, having had her say and not much interested in our replies, she sauntered off, smoothly telling us over her shoulder how relieved she was that her daughter was graduating and wouldn't be around to be deeply affected by our failures.
Gee, thanks for stopping by.
I've never spoken about this publicly, but I share it with you now here because I want you to know there's a difference between sitting at home, hearing what you think is the truth, and knowing the truth, and working to do something about it.
I won't say that many elected officials aren't corrupt. I'm sure many are. I won't say that sometimes the 'looks like a duck, quacks like a duck' rule of thumb isn't the most true. But I will say that sometimes it isn't what it seems and if you don't know, you shouldn't act - or speak - like you do.