There is quite the scandal going around town. Evidently a sign has been posted somewhere in Florida on the northbound side of I-95. Worse, it is thought that it was posted by a Richmond Hill resident. You can see said sign by clicking these words. It is not listed in this article simply because I was not interested in having it post on the front page of the blog.
I have debated this article all day. What do you say about a sign like that? I will be honest. It irritated me. I love this town and I adore being a resident here. My family and I are incredibly local. This is my home. It is where I live with my husband. It is where we raise our children. As far as I can tell, it is the town in which I will live my last days. I have made friendships and am building a business. My friends are building businesses and raising their families. The general consensus is that the sign is hurtful – both professionally and personally.
I want to rage and call names. I would like to disclose conversations. I would like to pull out my soap box and rail. But I know that there has to be a better way. As a Rotarian, the Four Way Test is the better way.
- Is it the Truth?
- Is it fair to all Concerned?
- Will it build good will and better Friendships?
- Will it be beneficial to all concerned?
So, instead of ranting at the issue, I will tell you a small bit about what I learned about Henry Ford.
The area that is now Richmond Hill was left in virtual ruins after the Civil War. Plantation homes were burned, crops destroyed and the military strong holds were tattered. However. it seemed like the people persevered, just like they do now, and they set back to rebuilding their lives. Times got tough in the early 1900’s.
Henry Ford arrived here and subsequently purchased most of the area in 1925. His activities took a struggling town and provided the means to create a thriving coastal community – all in the middle of the Great Depression.
Henry Ford was responsible for ensuring the people living in this community had medical care, education and professional opportunity. He restored buildings, introduced industry, created jobs and remembered the children. He saw the heart and ability of the residents here and helped in creating a situation for that potential to grow. And grow it did – even during the Depression.
He was friends with Harvey Firestone and worked to build industry in the community. He was friends with George Washington Carver and built a school that was dedicated to him. He was known by the area young people and often visited their gatherings with his wife Clara.
I also investigated the allegations in the sign. I would suggest you do the same. You will learn of his World War I opposition to the war during which he worked with Jewish pacifist Rosika Schwimmer. You will learn about the newspaper he owned that spouted a large amount of anti-Semitic views. The involvement of Ford in its production and its content is subject to debate.You will also find that Ford was against labor unions because he did not believe they were effective for the worker. Ford instituted his own program that paid his workers more than twice the daily minimum wage and created extensive benefit programs.
Let’s say all of this is true. Or let us say that none of it is. First, it is an incredibly complicated feat to judge a man whom we neither know personally nor have any real way of understanding the times and culture in which he lived. I am hopeful that time will judge all of us gently on our mistakes and misjudgements and will appreciate the good and productive we hope to leave behind.
Second, our present day community is a phenomenal one. We deserve to be able to honor our history’s achievements and the perseverance of those who plowed the ground before us. We deserve to be able to gleen strength from our humble beginnings and enjoy the fruits of the labor put forth by both those in previous eras and those that forge ahead now.
I hope my thoughts have passed the Four Way Test. I am looking forward first to the sign coming down. I am looking second to this bruise on our community healing. May we all strive to pass the Four Way Test.