The decorations are nestled in their boxes in attic and basement. Leftover meals have been rehashed, casseroled and retired. The New Year has begun. It’s a year we pray will find prosperity making its way to our door.
Lord knows, we need it. I’m talking “prosperity” in more areas than our bank accounts and that can be a tall order.
Retired newspaper publisher Sam Griffin once told me that the direction anything takes can be summed up in two words: Political Will.
Is it really that simple? We hear the talking heads from various news organizations pontificating 24/7 about what’s wrong with the country. It’s the President and his advisors. It’s the Congress. It’s the apathy of people who don’t care enough to vote. It’s the idiot that got elected to office and welched on his/her campaign promises. It’s the smell of power that went to the head of a good neighbor once she/he got into elected office. (Sometimes elected folks are like the dog chasing a car: Once they catch it, they have no idea what to do with it.)
What it boils down to, I fear, is a societal competitive nature that has turned everything from “what’s for dinner, Honey?” to the National Debt into a glorified clash of the Titans. We have to win. We have to be victorious. We have to be the team that tears down the goal posts.
All too often, we wind up destroying the playing field, both teams, and each other in our quest to put the “W” in our column. The goal posts and our communities are in splinters once the conquest is done.
Over the long haul, nobody wins because the battle never ends. Nobody ever admits there was another way besides their own. The other team doesn’t want to listen or try anything different because it isn’t on their personal radar. So the two teams spend time trying to undermine the other side and tear down the personalities involved.
We think everything boils down to dollars. The part folks have chosen to ignore is that along with dollars, there must be a focus on sense — common, economic, environmental, and social.
We have to look at everything to determine whether we’ve planned for an end result, not just an idea. Have we considered what will happen if…?
Planning is key. While we cannot plan for every contingency, we can look for the top three possibilities and realistically determine how they will affect us and those around us. We have to determine whether we’ve effectively considered how a project will impact its neighbors and contribute to the whole.
The only way to propel ourselves into a year of prosperity is to step up to the plate. Sure, you may not have much time and less money. Join the club; there are a lot of us in the boat with you. But you can do something besides hide behind a screen name while you point fingers and complain on a blog.
Open your eyes and ears. Listen objectively to someone else’s point of view and ask them to tell you why they support that opinion. If they tell you something besides, “because so-and-so said so”, then you’ll know they’re thinking for themselves. Offer them the courtesy of an audience. Who knows? They might just be onto something.
Instead of looking at national news day in and out, take the time to get involved on a local level; that’s where hope and change really begin. Pay attention to the workings of local municipal and county government. Rather than wait to read in the newspaper what a reporter’s take was on a meeting, go in person. Hear for yourself. Let the people who were elected know what you think.
The only way to change things, see a new future, and affect a positive outcome is for YOU to stop watching reality TV and get involved in the reality of your community.
“Political Will” means the will of the people in charge. Let them know you’re watching. Better yet, let them know you’re voting. We don’t need to try to hurt each other, but it may be time for some toes to get stepped on.
“Political Will” can be driven by the people who are being served. They can’t fix it if they don’t know you believe there’s a better way. Our prosperity is in your hands.
Helen Person is a Winder resident and columnist for the Barrow Journal. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.