There’s an old proverb that says, ‘Don’t burn your bridges behind you.’ It means don’t do away with what got you where you are, because you may need it to get back to where you were. Of course, a lot of people believe you should burn your bridges behind you, because you should always be looking and pressing forward.
But I think the proverb could use an updating. I think it should say ‘ Don’t burn your bridges before you cross them.’ By tbat I mean that too many people have opportunities ahead of them, but they do or say something that takes away that opportunity. In other words, they burn the bridge before they cross it.
We had a situation occur here last week that illustrates that point. I’m not going to name the people or the cause they were espousing, but if they read this, I’m fairly certain they’ll know who they are. Of course, they may not believe I’m talking about them, and they’ll just keep on burning their bridges.
We received a complaint about a local situation. We felt we needed to follow up on the complaint, so Ashley talked to the person most directly related to the situation, and also to the person in overall charge. Both of them explained what was going on and what had caused the complaint. We felt, and still feel, that we received legitimate answers to our questions, and we printed a story about it.
We could have just ignored the whole matter. After all, it was just one person making a complaint. But because this particular situation has had issues in the past, we felt it was in the best interest of all involved to check into and report on it.
Now we don’t claim to be perfect, and we always welcome comments and criticism about our stories, as long as they are done nicely and respectfully. What Ashley received for her efforts was a person we had never heard from who started making harassing phone calls to her at work, and started writing derogatory emails and Facebook posts about her and the story. When Ashley attempted to talk with her, she refused to listen to anything Ashley had to say and kept on haranguing her about the article, to the point that Ashley was forced to hang up on the woman. She hasn’t called back.
But then the emails started, and they weren’t just addressed to us. She addressed them to all of her friends around the country who do the same thing she does, and we started getting emails from them, too, people who don’t know us or know about what had gone on. Ashley attempted to answer the woman and correct what she was saying, and all she got back was more derogatory comments about her, the South, Upson County, and Thomaston. Finally, we had enough and started dumping the emails into our junk mail folder, mostly unread.
One of the email writers finally wrote and told her cohorts to stop harassing Ashley, stating, “…maybe this ruckus will result in the changes we would like to see … if we play our cards right. No more yelling at people, please! Remember you catch more flies with sugar than vinegar!”
There is no amount of sugar that is going to change this ruckus. These people have lost all credibility with us. We know there are good people and organizations trying to do what they are doing, and we’ll be happy to talk to them, but not if they are in any way affiliated with any of the people who contacted us.
They’ve done more damage than good with their antics, and I hope next time they’ll remember that and think before they speak or write. Don’t burn your bridges before you cross them.
Larry Stanford may be reached at 706-647-5414 or on Twitter @LarryStanford7.