Friday, February 15, 2008

This town is a sealed tuna fish sandwich

Zappa meets Mellencamp when it comes to the virtues of living in a small town. I went to prep school in New York City-John Lindsay was the Mayor. I knew his name, but I didn't know him and he had no idea who I was. That was, and is, his loss, ;-)

My name is Bill Kenny and I live in Norwich, 'Hi, Bill' (I thought I'd evoke AA and make you smile, or grimace, perhaps). In Norwich, I know the names of all the members of the City Council, have met them and they know me. Abstraction is nice-but putting a name and a face to 'them' in City Hall is really nice. If you live in a Norwich, wherever it is you live, and don't know the people who run your government, ask for your money back; after you find a mirror and tell your reflection just how disappointed you are in yourself.

If nothing else, you get a good sense of how the world works at the macro level when you see how the world works at the micro (municipal) level. As Tip O'Neill purportedly said, 'all politics is local.' I suspect this is true, and a truth, because, ultimately where we live and how we live is of greater importance to us than abstractions like the balance of payments, strategic nuclear balance or human rights halfway across the globe. No need to apologize. When times are good, humanitarian organizations report, we are more generous with donations of time, talent and money. When we feel the pinch of Hard Times in the Land of Plenty, we're more parsimonious because we truly have less to give to others.

Do you have volunteer firefighters where you live, too? We have them here in Norwich and they are, by all accounts, courageous, competent and stretched way too thin. As Life in the Land of (low fat, actually 2%) Milk and Honey (product) has gotten harder more of us spend more of our lives working to maintain the standard of living we inherited from our parents and that we want to improve as we pass it to our children. There's a problem in this country, where, for the first time in our history our children will be less well-off than we are.We did not fail them-the game has changed.

And because the game has changed, there are billions of fewer donated hours for any and all civic activities. like Scouts, like volunteer fire fighting, like coaching youth sports, so when you can make a difference by organizing an outing for three or four youngsters and take them fishing, or some other activity they might not ever get to do otherwise, you are by definition, exceptional. And your neighborhood, and our city, regardless of size improves.

When a million people make a million efforts to help one other person, the level is elevated and more people are inspired to help even more. And our county, our state and our nation incrementally improve. Because of one person.
Am I talking about fish because it's a Friday in Lent? I don't know, what kind of bait do you use for tuna, tarter sauce?
-bill kenny

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