The conclusion

The voters of the Caledonia Community Schools district have chosen Jennifer Nichols, Tim Morris, and John Brandow as trustees for the district’s board of education. Mary Anne Timmer, Eric VanGessel, and I got fewer votes. (But thank you to the thousands who did vote for us!)

So the new school board will consist of Jennifer, Tim, and John together with Marcy White, Jason Saidoo, Brittany Barber Garcia, and Katy Isic. To the seven of them, I say: our community has entrusted you with oversight of our schools. You must work together well. For the sake of our students and our community, I wish you absolute success in pushing the reset button and entering into the new year in ways that will build mutual trust, positive regard, and a spirit of service.

Everyone has assets and liabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. You must find ways to utilize everyone’s strengths, and to minimize the effects of everyone’s weaknesses. We human beings are not so good at discerning and acknowledging our weaknesses. You must find ways to trust each other enough to allow each other to help you discern how best to invest your talents for the benefit of the students you all want to serve.

To the trustees, and also to our administrators, teachers, staff members, and students, and to the community as a whole, I say: This campaign has been a trial and a test for all of us, and some of us have failed in various more and less spectacular ways. It will not be easy, but we must all try to find ways to forgive, forbear, repent, reform, and press on to better things.

Those who are disappointed this morning must not despair (give up hope). Despair, as Kierkegaard taught us, is the sickness unto death. Don’t let yourself go there.

I think most of us will recognize these words: “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

We are not each other’s enemies and must reject every impulse to act and speak as though we are. Our enemies are fear, resentment, bitterness, anger, not knowing everything, and not understanding everything, and not being willing to acknowledge when we are wrong. The only way to overcome these things involves patience, hopefulness, perseverance, willingness to overlook perceived interpersonal wrongs, and, under and through and pervading everything else: love. My most firmly held belief is that in the end, and in every moment from now to the end, only Love can save us.

In the course of this campaign I have met many new friends. I have been surprised, helped, and blessed by the kindness, generosity, intelligence, and diligence of many people whom I did not know a few short months ago. I will not name names here. You know who you are, and I know who you are. I will be forever grateful to you, and I hope that we can keep in touch. My community is bigger and better because I have found you, or we have found each other. Let’s keep the community alive, and well, and growing.

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