Letter: Ron Campbell, Leesburg

Editor: I, like many others, repudiate the yearbook photos and the self-refuted apology from our governor. I support the justified outrage from citizens, clergy, politicians and I have resisted the urge to respond until now.

As an elected member of the Leesburg Town Council, member of the Loudoun County NAACP, executive director of the Loudoun Freedom Center and member of Holy and Whole Life Changing Ministries, International, my obligations to my community and organizations I represent would have me to pray and fully consider all actions that could be taken as to the matter of the consequences of a resignation by Governor Ralph Northam.

I believe that the governor should resign, but resignation alone will not have the effect of healing, reconciliation and providing instruction for how we move forward from an ugly, painful past and implications of the history that is present and sure to surface again.

Resignation satisfies an immediate need for justice but does not heal our wounds.

Resignation is politically correct but does not create a political obligation for the other party or any individual to do the same under the same conditions.

Resignation is morally correct but relies on the strength and courage of the offender to see the greater good and accept the consequences.

Resignation alone is not atonement and our political parties are not the vehicles to take us to higher ground.

We face a difficult challenge at this moment and if we would just pause to consider the obstacles and hurdles around the real issues of race, we might also consider the actions that could move us as a commonwealth towards a true path to reconcile our past with our present. Resignation alone is not that path.

So, when does a resignation become an atonement?

The dictionary defines atonement as a reparation for an offense or injury.

In Christian theology it means the reconciliation of God and humankind through Jesus Christ.

Other religions and faith practices see atonement as an act of making up for wrongdoings in order to be in harmony with a higher power.

In the Islamic tradition atonement is to turn away from past sinful and evil activities and to firmly resolve abstaining from them in the future.

The Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur is the most solemn and important holy day of the Jewish calendar where the act of atonement by the high priest on behalf of the people brought reconciliation between the people and God.

Atonement is not a penalty or a punishment. Atonement is a path to justice and presents opportunities for healing the damages caused.

If you do something as an atonement you do it to show that you are not only sorry but that you are helping to undo the damage you caused.

The resignation of the governor of Virginia alone will not create a path for others to come forward and reveal their sins or resolve issues created by the hateful past of slavery and slave owners. A resignation without any other conditions will allow for new leadership but not provide a path for the parties to work together to repudiate all hate and rid our commonwealth of all the vestiges of slavery.

If the governor resigns and his resignation is to be meaningful it must come with conditions of atonement otherwise it’s just another temporary meaningless political gesture.

The final and most compassionate element of atonement is forgiveness. Forgiveness allows for healing and moving past the pain.

The act of resignation by Governor Northam could be a great act of leadership and set the commonwealth on a path of reconciliation, forgiveness and atonement.

Resignation alone is simply symbolic and there is a great opportunity to ask and get more.

Ron Campbell, Leesburg

7 thoughts on “Letter: Ron Campbell, Leesburg

    • 2019-02-05 at 7:23 am
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      Eric,

      Thank you for your question. As an example before the Governor would resign he could form a commission of citizens and elected officials to conduct a series of Town Hall meetings throughout the Commonwealth and engage in problem solving conversations as to how Virginia reconciles the impact slavery and the civil war. The Governor has some personal soul searching to do and that he has to face alone but he could dedicate his time to helping set an agenda for dealing with the remnants of slavery that contribute to poverty, health care needs, substandard educational systems, etc. He might also lead the effort to give localities in Virginia the right to determine what should happen with all symbols of the confederacy on public display. Atonement starts with a public action to begin to undo the damage caused. Just some thoughts.

    • 2019-02-12 at 9:21 am
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      Wear a burlap shirt and whip himself with a cat-o-nine tails (30 lashes minimum).

  • 2019-02-04 at 1:54 pm
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    Councilman, do you support stripping doctors and hospitals out of a late term abortion process, up till the moment of live birth? What are your thoughts on Gov. Ralph floating the infanticide balloon?

    • 2019-02-05 at 11:33 am
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      Chris,
      In my humble opinion it would be appropriate for me to only comment on questions related to my letter to the editor and since there is not enough space in this forum to share all my thinking to properly respond to your questions, I would be happy to share my position more fully with you and have an open conversation if you would like to meet in person. So simply put, I personally don’t support the proposed legislation and I do believe in protecting Life and Choice. It’s time to stop the divisive rhetoric on this issue from our religious or political ideology and start to focus on how we can protect life and preserve choice without demeaning the humanity of others in the process. I get that we are entitled to our views and in the case of elected officials our views are never private no matter how personal. All life is precious, prayers are important, opinions matter, choice matters and in this case, votes matter. #peopleoverpolitics.

  • 2019-02-05 at 10:07 am
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    If the Governor wants to have a meaningful conversation about race and atonement for his sins, he could start by apologizing to President Trump for unfairly calling him a white supremacist and smearing his opponent Ed Gillespie as a racist. Since I doubt he will do this I seriously doubt he is sincere in wanting to have any sort of conversation that addresses race in anything other than an expedient political context.

  • 2019-02-05 at 4:40 pm
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    Fair enough Councilman. Thank you for your answer. Let me add that you have more fortitude than most other elected officials thus far in addressing this horrifying issue. My Delegate, Wendy Gooditis is making herself out, unbelievably, to be the victim for her strong support of HB-2491. Good for you. If I see you on the street, I’ll introduce myself, and perhaps we can have that conversation. Thanks again for giving your personal answer. Other officials should follow your open and candid lead.

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