It’s time for realistic optimism about mill

Published 8:11 am Friday, December 4, 2009

To the Editor:

To someone like me who has made his living for more than 20 years in the paper industry, the news of the mill closing was not completely surprising.

Most people I know at the mill and in the community will admit in private moments that they felt this announcement was inevitable. The real shock was in the timing, because I, like many others, had convinced myself that the eventual closure of the mill was years and not months away.

So, the proverbial two-ton elephant is in the room, and it’s not leaving. And the question on everyone’s mind is “What do we do now?”

I would like to start by commending community and business leaders like Ed Pickup, Steve Gibson, Steve Stewart and Dan Hoctor for striking the right tone in the pages of this paper. They and others have counseled an approach of what I call realistic optimism to guide our efforts for the difficult work to come.

Anger and grief are normal reactions to this type of life-altering news. What we must all guard against is allowing these emotions to evolve into rage and despair.

If you live in the area and have become convinced that this news doesn’t affect you, then you’re kidding yourself. But if you believe there is no future in Franklin after the mill goes quiet, then you are making an even bigger mistake.

We will survive this crisis. I am also certain that Franklin will emerge as the thriving community of good neighbors that my family has grown to cherish since we moved here six years ago.

What can the individual do in the face of this challenge? Pray that our government and business leaders will discover creative ways for our community to cope with the loss of the mill. Help a friend or neighbor when you find them in need. Show compassion and love to those hardest hit.

For those who decide they must leave the community, don’t resent them just wish them well.

In the months ahead we will all be called upon to serve as counselors, confidants, cheerleaders, and strong shoulders. I bid you to serve these roles gladly. You never know when something as simple as a kind word will tip the balance in favor of a good outcome.

I searched the Web today in an attempt to find quotes from famous leaders that summed up my feelings. I found two from an unlikely pair. The first is from military leader George Patton who said, “Success is how high you bounce when you hit bottom.” The second is from a maker of peace, Martin Luther King, Jr., who said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

Godspeed friends.

Galen Butler