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Remembering we are all human

It might be the biggest understatement in the history of language, but here goes: Technology is changing our world.

Even on our big old globe, computers and the Internet can make it a small sphere in a hurry. Cell phones ensure we are always connected. Cars talk. You can check on your home from the road. You can even pause live TV.

But none of that would be possible without the people behind the scenes.

With all this electronic communication we overlook the fact that we are all still human beings.

At the other end of that email. Behind that text or instant message. Beyond the image we see on computers and television screens.

We are all human.

But it is easy to forget that point, especially with our celebrities, athletes and elected officials. This happens right here at home.

Although it wasn’t his intention, Ironton Mayor Rich Blankenship reminded me of this last week when he sent me an email after the dedication ceremony for the new Ironton-Russell Bridge and the newspaper editorial recognizing his efforts to keep this project on track.

Blankenship didn’t intend for this to be a public statement — although he later and maybe reluctantly gave me permission to print it — and was simply speaking from the heart.

Here is what he said:

“I just wanted to say thanks for the nice article in the paper. You were correct in saying, ‘Many take credit for things they had little to do with.’ That is something I have experienced in my political career and was totally unaware of until I entered the political arena and realized it first hand.

“I honestly try not to do that and I know, as well as my family, how much work and effort I put into this project trying to make it happen. I understood that the odds were not in my favor but I knew I had to try. Most people do not realize how much time and effort I actually spent working on this project over the past four years but my immediate family sure is aware.

“My mother was in attendance at the ceremony and afterwards she gave me a hug and told me that my dad would have been proud and he was present in spirit. I then pulled out the last picture taken of my dad and I, taken at the swearing-in ceremony on Dec. 1, 2011. I told mom that dad was definitely with me. With tears in her eyes, she said she was proud as well.

“My life has changed since the passing of my best friend (dad) less than two months ago, but I know he would want me to continue working hard for a good cause.

“I know I’m not perfect but at the end of the day I can come home to be with my family and know I have given it my best.

“We have many challenges in front of us and I will continue to do what is right. Thanks for the kind words, Rich Blankenship.”

Love him or hate him, no one can fault Blankenship for his passion. Regardless of whether or not you agree or disagree with his decisions in office, it is difficult to question his commitment to this project and others.

Rich Blankenship didn’t have to show this personal side to me, especially since we only have a professional relationship comparable to prior mayors and elected officials. It’s not like we are old friends or get the kids together for play dates.

No, I think he was simply being honest and speaking from the heart after an emotional day.

Personally, I think the mayor has done some very positive things for the city in his four plus years. I also think he has made some mistakes.

Could someone else do better? Maybe. Maybe not. But I guarantee someone else wouldn’t be perfect either.

After all, once all the technology is stripped away, we are all still just human.


Michael Caldwell is publisher of The Tribune. To reach him, call (740) 532-1445 ext. 24 or by e-mail at mike.caldwell@irontontribune.com. Follow him on Twitter: @MikeCaldwell_IT.