Don’t tear down the builders



I watched them tearing a building down,

A gang of men in a busy town.

With a ho, heave, ho and a lusty yell

They swung a beam and a wall fell.

I asked the foreman, “Are these men skilled?

Like the men you’d hire if you had to build?”

He laughed as he replied, “No, indeed

Just common labor is all I need.

I can easily wreck in a day or two

What builders have taken years to do.”

I asked myself as I went away

Which of these roles have I tried to play?

Am I a builder who works with care,

Measuring life by rule and square?

Or am I a wrecker who walks the town

Content with the labor of tearing down?

A good friend of mine shared this poem with me. Although the author is unknown, the powerful message should resonate with readers in varying degrees; sustained by perspective. Through this column, I regularly have the privilege of interacting with amazing leader volunteers who genuinely project a builder’s attitude. They are mentors to me, and I applaud them for their effort to assure Carmel is vibrant, compassionate, growing and continues to be the best place to live in the country.

But, wreckers are a fact of life. Although some people have the enviable skill to clearly see what could be, a vocal few cynics persuasively can only communicate despair. The beauty of our system is that we unmistakably have many more builders than wreckers; to use the poem’s terminology. I encourage and welcome constructive criticism and probing, but there is a right way and a wrong way to voice dissent. I see the adjective, constructive, disappearing from our local dust-ups. Do you ever wonder whether we are needlessly sacrificing decorum, respect, collaboration and basic decency in exchange for self-promotion and front page headlines? Are ideas in Carmel vetted on merit or instead, judged solely on who will not get the credit?

Today I challenge us to demand courtesy in our public forums. Stamp our condescension. Let the public square again assume a basic sense of civility and politeness. Don’t let the wreckers tear down the builders without the proper permit; good manners.

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