Wednesday, December 21, 2016

We Are Why We Can't Have Nice Things

Today has the least amount of daylight we shall experience for the next six months. Yes, the first day of winter, not a favorite of mine, in all honesty, is, actually a signal that we are slowly turning a corner. 

Where that takes us has a lot to do with how we choose to go, but I had an epiphany about personal responsibility (and the lack thereof) over the weekend so I’m a little cautious as to how I walk.

I went for a short walk during the almost summer day we had Sunday and navigating snow and ice covered sidewalks helped me realize why we still are who we are and where we are.  

If you were to visit the Otis Library and pull up copies of local newspapers from the past five through twenty-five years, you'd read Letters to the Editor about the same Large Issues we speak of today.

It's human nature. There's something soul-stirring about issues we can reduce to 'us versus them', or David and Goliath, or perhaps Laurel and Hardy (okay, perhaps not), especially when the villains are vague or hard to identify.

That's what made me so sad about my two and quarter mile slog on Sunday. There was more than enough opportunity for personal responsibility; just not a lot of takers. I walked on the sidewalk from our house on Lincoln Avenue down Broadway but gave up on the sidewalks after a pair of houses, more or less across from the Lutheran church, were unshoveled.

The clincher was when I almost went ass over teakettles on the thin layer of ice at the walk signal at Broadway and Broad Street. Glad my struggle to keep my balance provided the drivers in the two cars at the light with some amusement; it's comforting to still be good for something. 

After crossing onto Main Street and then back up to Washington, there were uncleared sidewalks across from the Sweeney Bridge practically all the way up to School Street.

A bit farther along and closer to my home, the sidewalks across from what once was our children's first school, Buckingham, were a mess as were those of the houses across from the Congregation Brothers of Joseph. 

What did I learn from my ice-capade? The people who lived in all of those houses were, perhaps, unaware we had snow. Or perhaps they thought like one of those carnival rides, the snow must be This Tall in order to be shoveled. Or, and most likely, they didn't care what Chapter 19, Article 1, had to say. They couldn't be bothered to clear their sidewalks because it was the right thing to do, even though it was so they certainly didn't care if it was against the law. 

But if "the City" had not plowed the streets even those where sidewalks hadn't been shoveled, we'd have heard howls from now until the next snowfall. Everyone wants to change Norwich for the better, but we won’t change ourselves and do the same.
-bill kenny

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