Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Signs if not Signs and Wonders

I saw a sticker the other day on a nearly-vintage red station wagon, 'Honk if You Can Read This." I didn't quite know what to make of the silence from the vehicle behind him. Perhaps that driver was an illiterate...

We are a nation of fans who wear our passions and convictions along with our hearts and other organs on our sleeves, tee-shirts, bumpers, and ball-caps. As the autumn shadows lengthen and the leaves pile high on fallow grass, lawn signs for a plethora of candidates for political office spring up practically overnight.  

I smiled walking around this weekend at the number of signs and their size and in which neighborhoods I came across the most. If there is a seasonal growth business, aside from beach cabanas at the shore, it's most assuredly campaign signs.

While we have the good fortune to have volunteers willing to seek office for City Council and Board of Education, it's easy to forget the costs they pay in terms of time and money to become candidates.

And there's more to costs than meets the eye. There are the things you cannot buy because you're paying for campaign materials and there's the time away from family and friends because you're knocking on neighborhood doors and visiting with registered voters hoping to get them to at least hear you out. Conversations require two persons and when one is missing, it's a monologue.

I don't mean to offer that last point flippantly but there's a lot of things we don't too well for the most part and while this isn't a complete list, it's a pretty good start:

push the chair back in under the table when we we get up;

put the seat down on the toilet;

come to a full stop at the red light before making a right turn;

not talking on a cellphone while driving

and definitely not voting in municipal elections.  

We complain about a lack of freedom of choice but I think we actually prefer having freedom from choice. By insisting that 'there's nothing I can do' or that 'no one cares what I think' we absolve ourselves of all responsibility and blame when things fail.

And as we all know, things fail frequently. It's all part of life and why life is a contact sport. You can continue to claim you're a victim or you can listen when a candidate for office stops by and tell them what you'd like them to do for all of us. What are they gonna do? Tell you to shut up? They started it!

We can continue to tell each other that 'it doesn't make any difference' and 'one vote doesn't count,' and guess what? Eventually, we're right. We become our very own self-fulfilling prophecy-aside from maybe winning a tee-shirt, I don't see what the benefit is to that kind of behavior.

Did you ever hear about that city in Connecticut whose residents became more passive in each successive election until they barely reached double digits in voter turnout? You haven't? Neither has anyone else.
-bill kenny

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