Letter to the Editor: From Jon Mathers

Dear Italy Friends and Family,

I love Italy with a passion. Everywhere I go I tell folks all the great things about our community. I have lived here most of my 44 years and I want to shed a new light on a few things. Serving on the school board truly opened my eyes to the commitment of those who volunteer in our community. I want to thank the volunteer firemen who spend countless hours training, and endangering themselves for all of our safety. I want to thank the South Family for all of the time and money it takes to keep the Neo-tribune operating. I don’t think many of us understand the money and man hours associated with this task. I want to thank all of our community members who teach Sunday-School and other Church-related classes. I want to thank all of the men who help out their friends and neighbors. It could be mowing a lawn for a friend out of town or fixing a dripping sink for a neighbor.

I want to thank all of ladies who volunteer so often when there is a death or tragedy, always helping to clean or cook a meal for those in need. I want to thank all of the parents who volunteer time for the PTO. I want to thank all of the men and women serving on the School board and City Council. I want to thank all of the hard working folks who keep the IYAA operating. I want to thank all of the teachers and staff, who often work after school is over tutoring and grading papers and doing whatever it takes to get the job done. I know I have left some out. Please know this was not intended. But it is important that everyone who serves this community for no pay be recognized. Time is the most valuable thing we have, and I want everyone who lives in and around Italy to recognize the people who donate their time, and thank them. Let them know how much you appreciate it. Many of us simply cannot volunteer. It may be because of our health or our job requirements or other reasons, and that’s OK. However I would ask that if you can’t volunteer, please be supportive of those that do.

I am shifting gears here a little bit, and I know it is going to step on a few toes. There is a problem in our community that has hung around a long time and seems to be worsening. The community of Italy is suffering from a constant re-circulation of negatives. More people in our community need to show the wisdom and maturity required to look at the big picture and notice the changes that are better. I want to challenge this community to do that very thing. It is a lot easier, and apparently more amusing, to focus on the negatives. So many folks hear a little piece of a story and repeat it with their own twist of justice and pass it down the line until eventually it becomes completely false. We must remember that the things we hear are only one side to a multi-sided issue. A mature person will hear these things and do their best to extinguish the gossip before it gets worse. There are a lot of folks who consistently sit around and discuss something they only know a little bit about, and destroy months of team-building in one sitting. I am reaching out to a specific group of our citizens: the citizens who wish to show common decency, kindness, and love to their fellow men. I am asking that we put a stop to it. Italy has men and women of all ages who love to bash the school, the City, the churches and the IYAA. These folks enjoy picking apart every issue, often using social media to assist the Devil’s task. So I am pleading and calling out to mature adults who have the power to stop it. It can most often be done by simply not repeating it. It is much easier to say a quick prayer over the issue.

I have learned a really good way to stop gossip. The next time you are getting an ear-full about someone, stop and say one nice thing about whoever is being discussed. You will be shocked at how fast the one doing the bashing clams up. The reason is because by doing this, you have just risen above the gossiper and they don’t want to keep going. I challenge our mature citizens to try this. It is up to us all to make this community a fun, safe and positive place to raise our families. Let’s all do our best to extinguish the re-circulation of anything negative. There will always be issues to resolve, but please, why don’t we all go directly to the source and cut out the whispering? I truly care for you all.

The intention of this letter is not to point fingers or scold. The intention of this letter is to increase the awareness of the damage caused by negative talk and slander.

Any questions or comments concerning this letter should be directed to Jon Mathers, you will find my contact info below.

Jon Mathers

Comment received from Stephanie Stiles Viator 6/26/13-10:19pm

My family has lived in Italy for 3 years and we love this town. We moved here from Midlothian so our children could grow up and go to school in a tight knit community. I appreciate Jon Mathers words and hope to become one of the families that can make Italy what it is supposed to be. This town is too small for negative attitudes. We need to make this town a positive, safe and welcome environment for economic growth and our children. I think we are headed it the right direction and hope there are more families like us in the community that will join together and make it a better place.
Thank you Stephanie Stiles Viator