Sunday, October 12, 2008

Quoting from the Book of Vonnegut....

As we near the first Tuesday in November and hopefully think more and more about the large issues that afflict and affect us nationally (pause while you silently list your Top Five; hey! Stop moving your lips!) I want to dwell not so much on worrying from the top down, but working from the bottom up.

I don't know what I don't know, which is a curse and a blessing in many ways. When I was a kid, I didn't know about gravity, but I watched George Reeves as Superman and thought the trick to flying was a cape. I still have one-but now it comes with a sense of caution and lowered expectations. At least there are fewer emergency room visits, proving experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted.

But it seems more and more to me, those who get what they want are the people who've decided that rules are for people who don't know better. Manners and mores are private rules and ethics are public ones, and too many seem to have neither. The schemers always beat the dreamers. They have an agenda and NO conscience and we have only a hazy notion of the former and far too much of the latter.

The grubbers and grabbers think The Good Lord gave them two hands so they could take as much as they want and two pockets to put it all in. We struggle to teach our children what is right and fair. They hire lawyers and execute secret covenants. They buy those they can't bully and bully those they cannot buy. Instead of arguing over a principle, be it large issues like universal access to affordable health care or local issues such as land use and smart growth, they trap us into arguments about specific topics and use 'love me, love my dog' arguments that leave everyone poorer for the exchange, while nothing is revealed.
Many of us have the best local government money can buy-our officials become accidental chattel and the only real question is how much will this cost? For too long, for a variety of reasons, too many of us have assumed those whom we have placed in charge know best. And for even longer, those in charge have believed they not only know EVERYTHING, they know everything BETTER.

Across the country, from town to town and city to city, we have pursued zero-sum politics and, practically without exception it has created streets in need of paving, not only sweeping, sewers that cannot rid us of our own waste fast and safely enough, a police department more and more regard with jaundiced mistrust even as those who serve battle low morale and dispirited zero leadership, more firemen than Ray Bradbury ever dreamed you could have in Fahrenheit 451, and school systems where the instructional staff generates point papers and PowerPoint slides to explain that their failures in the classroom with our children are the result of invisible and far away others that only expending more money can possible fix.

You've read it here before, we are all we will ever have to rebuild and reinvent where we live. And that's as it should be, as we are all we shall ever need. For purely perverse reasons, we now believe if we do nothing we can do nothing wrong and forget that every Brave Dream begins with a leap of faith. We chose to live where we choose to be, and while that varies from one to the other, it's what has brought us all to the places and spaces we are in. So many people in the same device.

All that we carry is all that we are-and it includes our hopes for a better life for our children and ourselves. We cannot continue to allow those whom we have selected to elect to be so cavalier and unmindful of our dreams. There's an old Spiritual that sings about "I am but one-but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something." We are not too late and we are not too few. Now is the time and we are the people.
-bill kenny

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