Our friend, Pastor Manzo, isn’t the only one willing to offer a Sunday sermon. My thoughts lean toward the secular, and those following were adapted from a previous posting.
It’s a municipal election year, and unsurprisingly, folks are becoming overtly peckish. Much of the current atmosphere owes to the crushing subliminal toll taken by two-party tribal loyalties, which when compared to otherwise inescapable realities, tend to conjure significant doses of cognitive dissonance.
This city is a mess (must vote straight ticket).
We need to make a change (must vote straight ticket).
Must … try … too weak … letting go (voting straight ticket).
But politics are only part of the overriding problem, although they’re the most visible manifestation of dysfunction at this precise moment in time. Long neglected mirrors provide a clue as to certain of the other components, and I have long contended that the chief underlying cause for the underachieving malaise traditionally holding New Albany in its non-productive grip is a considerable vein of civic masochism that is perpetrated with almost evangelistic intensity by those mistaking themselves for community leaders.
We have worked for years and failed miserably to bring about lasting change … and we’re not about to see anyone younger, smarter – anyone different – succeed without first being made to suffer equal measures of the frustration and anger that we’ve experienced along the way.
Consequently, many have of us in the blogosphere have felt the sting of this condescending attitude of institutionalized futility when attempting to reason with the Internet demographic – judging this cohort as best we can from the available evidence, and considering the craven anonymity that prefaces its unique brand of inferiority complex-meets-dismissive arrogance.
Again and again, the familiar “we can’t” dirge is repeated – and lest there be any misunderstanding, a sprinkling of intemperate on-line watering holes aren’t the only places to hear it performed around this city. It’s seemingly congenital.
We’re just a rotten little city.
We’ve never accomplished anything.
We’re corrupt and incapable.
We’ve accepted our fate.
We’re going to be even unhappier if you prove us mistaken, you uppity book-reading outsiders.
Of course, it’s a ludicrously counter-intuitive and self-defeating attitude, even if it serves as the only identifiable campaign platform of politicians who range across the gamut of knee-jerk homily (not to mention hominy) ridden “expertise, from Dan Coffey on one side all the way through Steve Price on the same – and much, much less.
But … it remains that if one is ill, does it really matter where the doctor comes from, so long as wellness is the result?
Furthermore, who would propose that his or her children be afflicted with the same disease as the parent?
Or have the parents become so accustomed to predictable pain that the prospect of the illness's absence fills them with a dread of the unexpected so very strong that they opt for the devil they know rather than the cure?
Surely for some, acceptance of the cure implies a level of deference to unfathomable sociological and cultural norms that are such a recurring anathema that continuing loyalty to historic malfunction (vote straight ticket) seems the only choice.
Speaking personally, consider that apart from my time overseas, I’ve lived in Floyd County for all of my 46 years, and within the city limits of New Albany since 1992 … and yet I remain an inexperienced, unknowing, dangerous outsider to some self-designated martyrs of numerology and their customary and comprehensive failure to transform the multi-faceted diversity of human existence into the predictable certitude of a spreadsheet.
Sorry, but it takes more than numbers to accomplish anything in this life. It takes clarity, organization, will, courage, a work ethic, a refusal to quit … it takes heart … it takes all these and many other strictly human qualities to succeed. Numbers cannot explain my relationship with Mrs. Confidential, or the dedication to micro-principle felt by numerous small business owners, or the love of a mother for her child.
Numbers are a tool, and nothing more. Nickels and dimes cannot quantify any of the essential components of a human being … but they can and often are used as expedient roadblocks, handy impediments and cynical weapons to thwart human progress ... wielded by a sect that is noteworthy for little save a profound and puzzling absence of imagination.
Whenever you hear a person say, “we can’t afford it,” ask yourself: Is he or she referring to money, or to will? In fact, most of the time, it’s the latter. There are ways to find money, and there are far fewer of them when the will to understand them is lacking.
But I digress. Again.
Why is it that so many of New Albany’s “long-timers” – the self-appointed arbiters of what is “true” and what isn’t about this city – so joyfully seek to inflict on an entire populated area, and on newcomers who are relatively free of the underachieving contagion of previous failures, exactly the same sort of pain and frustration that they themselves wouldn’t for one instant consider inflicting on their own blessed children and grandchildren?
Are they content to pass the unjustifiable pain down to the next generation (even their own!) so as to make their own unfulfilling life experiences somehow comprehensible – in the end, are they just incapable of recognizing that with each passing year, the range of opportunities and possibilities changes, negating the conditions of last year, a decade ago or even the previous week, and providing us with the means to break these cycles of municipal dysfunction if only we’d work smarter together to do it?
And, while we’re at it, finally put a halt to the nonsensical excuses for failure offered incessantly as though they were canonical writ:
You’re too young.
You don’t understand the way things work.
It’s always been like that here.
Who do you think you are (outsider; youngster, snooty book reader) trying to understand this when I still don’t after thirty years of trying?
It’s not our fault – the powers that be were against us.
In 2007 and beyond, the slogan should be “New Albany: No more excuses for failure.”
Have experience? Good. Share your wisdom. All of us are listening. Are you listening to us?
Are you hopeful? Even better, because we need you. Get involved.
Feeling spiteful, malicious, and beaten down from fighting the battles of your youth? Sorry about your bad luck. Please trash the negativity, turn the calendar forward to the present, and get on board. We need you, too. You don’t have to drink our Kool-Aid, and we don’t have to drink yours. However, we must promote a genuine choice between the flavors.
Are you content to see this city remain third-rate? Fine … vote straight ticket, and then get the hell out of the way, Brambleberries -- you're not going to like what you see coming, there’s probably no way we can reason with you, and your “solutions” are about as dead and discredited as Victorian-era spiritualism.
Future generations should not have to pay for previous failures -- yours, ours, anyone's. For once, why not be part of a comprehensive solution, and not the vestige of a festering problem?
We’re not waiting. We're acting.