Archived Story

Wise words revisited

Published 9:38am Saturday, July 14, 2012

Cleaning out my desk at The Tidewater News office to make way for Tony Clark uncovered some jewels.

One was a speech Joe Stutts made at a Franklin-Southampton Area Chamber of Commerce annual meeting a decade or so ago.

Stutts, retired community relations manager for Union Camp, is one of the wisest men and most eloquent writers I know. On that particular night at Cypress Cove Country Club, he must have been quite the orator as well.

“Those in attendance were treated to a grand performance,” wrote the TN editor at the time.

I believe you’ll agree with me that Stutts’ words are even truer today than at the time.

An excerpt:

Is there a child in Southampton or Franklin whom we can abandon to hunger, to ignorance, to pain and abuse? Is this a child that will come to occupy a cell at great cost to you instead of a classroom with a future as a contributing citizen?

To abandon this child and others is a march of social, moral and indeed economic folly we permit at our peril.

You know the term “noblesse oblige.” I suppose it implies some arrogance, so, as we have no nobles through much nobility, let’s change it a bit.

There is an obligation that comes with God-given ability and talent.

There is an obligation that comes with having resources of time or money.

There is an obligation for those who possess leadership and influence.

There is an obligation that comes with doing business in this community – with living in this community.

Society and life will not get any simpler; it will never be simple again. Franklin/Southampton has faced many changes and done so successfully. But change, our challenger, is fleet, and so, too, must we be. We must bend change to our will and make it our friend instead of our adversary – to benefit the lot of all our citizens.

The soft, murmuring voices heard from the porches as we walked along High Street on a summer’s evening a half-century ago are still now. My old high school with all its memories is itself but a memory. The world, carrying us with it, has whirled through time and space to a new existence. It will never be the same. It can be better, it must be better – and you will make it so.

For you are a great people, and this is a great community.

STEVE STEWART is publisher of The Tidewater News. His email address is

  • bobs94

    By “God given ability”, I can only assume he means the ability to think and reason and form opinions and facts based on reasonable conclusions from prior experiences and observations. I use this ability to reason that God does not exist in any form, only in the imaginations of those that can not reason for themselves.

    Suggest Removal

    • A

      After reading this article, thoughts of happenings over the past decade on the local, regional and national fronts tinged my brain with negativity. Just how bad are things? Does this community and country really have what it takes to pull together and turn things around? Will people in positions of power and influence see things as the subject article does or will greed and power continue to corrupt? Unfortunately, I have a half empty outlook and keep hoping for a revival to restore integrity in business and good stewardship in politics, realizing that may be just too much to expect.

      With regard to your comment, I feel that such thinking may contribute to preventing any such revival. Hopefully the fact that you have no belief in God does not stand in the way of you living your life with good intentions toward your fellow man. I suggest to you that those who
      cling to a greater good than what exists in our day to day lives have the ability to reason and use that ability to persevere in the face of it. They recognize man’s inherent weaknesses (including their own) and the need to try and rise above those flaws to make the world a better place.

      I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on the remaining content of the article and how to deal with today’s obvious challenges.

      Suggest Removal

Editor's Picks