Editorial: The twin acts of vice and virtue
By Richard Gaw
“In each of us, two natures are at war – the good and the evil. All our lives the fight goes on between them, and one of them must conquer. But in our own hands lies the power to choose – what we want most to be – we are.” Robert Louis Stevenson
It is said that we are born good, and that we spend the rest of our lives in an unconscious quest to wreck it.
The entire question of how we fall somewhere within the boundaries of good and evil is a whirlwind dichotomy, an unsolvable mystery. Our history books are filled with the stories of such men and women – flawed heroes and decorated servants who are derelict of conscience.
In the context of that belief, a decent man who is alleged to have engaged in a reprehensible act was fired from his job last week.
From the time that Lydell Nolt was officially sworn in as the Kennett Township Chief of Police in 2015, we have followed his career closely. We have documented his tireless visits to area elementary schools in an effort to tighten the bonds of connection between police enforcement and our youngest generations. We have witnessed his kind behavior toward the residents of Kennett Borough at National Night Out events. We have documented the course of where he has taken the Kennett Township Police Department, from one initiative to the next. We have heard him defer all credit for the growth of his department and the successful results of its investigations to his staff, and at every Board of Supervisors meeting, we have heard him patiently answer the questions of residents who have expressed their concerns about safety for their families.
So it is with great shock and incredible dismay that in this edition of the Chester County Press, we share the news of his Feb. 5 dismissal from his duties as the Kennett Township Chief of Police for actions stemming from a sexual assault allegation against him. He was fired after an independent township investigation revealed, that under the statutes of Pa. Police Tenure Act, Nolt was found to have exhibited “inefficiency, neglect, intemperance, disobedience of orders, or conduct unbecoming an officer.”
Lydell Nolt's firing is merely the latest wound in a township that still lay bloody, battered and recovering in the wake of the recent investigation that led to the discovery that former township manager Lisa Moore had allegedly embezzled $3.2 million of the township's money for nearly a seven-year period. The irony here is in the overlap of these two stories, both Moore and Nolt were among the township's most respected and trusted stakeholders.
They make bandages for such wounds that are known as Time, Planning and Resilience, but while it is preliminary to know whether the application of these gauzy dressings will heal Kennett Township, where does that leave us – a community newspaper and the residents who read it – who are left to sift through the residue of these nearly simultaneous but separate and alleged actions?
While a preliminary investigation is currently being conducted by the Chester County Press into the allegations against Nolt, the facts are still too foggy and inconclusive to report, not to mention that there may be other people involved. Until those facts are completely known, we believe it is right to reserve judgment and condemnation.
The concept of good and evil is a black-and-white parameter that we have created for ourselves, and mostly because it is tangible and categorized and easier to understand. The real truth is, however, that we live in a continuum of gray, in a world where we are all capable of the highest form of goodness and the lowest degree of indecency.
In the prism of what makes us human, we are haunted by the color, because it will never leave us.