People Behind the News

My family has been close to Dr. Heather Wilson since she and my dad attended college together. They served together in the Air Force and have remained close friends since. I have met her and her husband several times throughout my life.

You may have heard her name recently or read it in the paper. Dr. Wilson has been the Secretary of the Air Force for the past two years. Prior to that, she was the president of the South Dakota School of Mines. She was a member of Congress for a decade and later did some contracting work. She was a cabinet secretary in the New Mexico state government. She was a Rhodes Scholar and served as an officer in the Air Force for nine years.

Without a doubt, Heather is intellectually brilliant, and a skilled politician. She is a person who knows the system, and has served the public for the majority of her professional life. She’s an accomplished woman with an excellent reputation.

Last night, she was appointed the new president of The University of Texas at El Paso. There has been some opposition to her appointment. Knowing Heather and her biography, reading the articles opposing her appointment are really eye opening.

Some say they want someone from academia. She’s a Rhodes Scholar who’s been the president of a public institution of higher learning before. Some say that she doesn’t have the experience to lead a diverse campus of 25,000 students. She has led the United States Air Force, which has over 665,000 members and another 150,000 civilians. Some don’t like her voting record on social issues. Fair, but no one can point to a pattern of behavior, let alone a singular action, that has her treating someone unfairly due to their personal beliefs.

What really strikes me is a lesson for all of us. We read these articles day in and day out about figures in politics, sports, media, and entertainment. Terrible things are said and written about them. Accusations come a mile a minute. Regardless of what’s said or written, these are people, real people. They have families, hopes, and dreams, just like you and me. And much of the stuff that is said about them may or may not be true.

Maybe it’d be better for all of us if we spent less time worrying about other people’s lives and just focusing on being the best that we can be. Maybe instead of celebrating their misery, we should hope the best for them. And if we read an article, or want to engage on an issue, let’s first gather facts on our own before sitting down to our keyboards.

© 2019 Chet J. Collins