The email set off an alarm. A trusted position was being misused. Young adults were the victims.
Could the allegation be true? What could we do about it? Why was there not more concern in the community?
If one measures the range of how we respond to a situation, one end of the spectrum is marked by the intensity of a parent protect her or his child. On this extreme, civility disappears. Rational decisions go on holiday. Measured responses cannot be found. While examples can be found in many species, humans are great examples of the extreme. Fathers will go to any lengths to protect their sons and daughters. Mothers defend their children without regard for their lives.
The email touched a value that was at our core. If true, our child was at risk if she attended her chosen university in the fall.
Something had to be done. Action was required! As I began to do a little research, it seemed that others had already taken up the cause. What initially seemed good news quickly morphed into a parody of an old story where a small group “put the whole city in an uproar, stampeding into the stadium, and grabbing two of Paul’s associates on the way, the Macedonians Gaius and Aristarchus.” (Acts 19.30) They were out of control! Innocent victims were being dragged into danger. Accusations were flying.
Cherry did not hesitate. “There is a better way to deal with this.”
What followed is a case example of responding to a potential conflict. Her email voicing the concern directly to the individual at the center of the controversy led to a response and invitation to have a telephone conversation. The conversation that followed gave birth to an invitation to sit down and have a meeting. A meeting with candid questions and frank answers brought assurance and comfort. An explosive situation became a casual event.
In our case, the mob did not win. A potential period of fear was replaced with professional respect and confidence. The actions of one trumped the cowardly actions of many.