Tuesday, May 25, 2010
A few words about a few trees.
As one local politico put it last week, “This is the breaking point? A few trees?”
In a word, no. But, as always, it’s important to consider the context in which both the problem and solution, such as they were, occurred.
On one end we have democracy. It is, as we have been taught seemingly since we have been taught anything, the best form of government possible, now and forever. It’s worth dying for.
On the other end we have church, symbolic of a direct line to God and all the moral authority that goes along with such a connection. It’s worth living for if for no other reason than because we’ll all eventually die.
In between, we have a major corporation and an independent contractor. The former is a well-recognized and heavily subsidized instrument in our society, to which we devote a mammoth amount of our various currencies. The latter is fodder for much of our mythology and legend -- the individual who, purely through entrepreneurial chutzpah and street smarts, ends up liberally rewarded with money and stature, which through the lens of our current condition equates to the right to be taken seriously.
We can and have unceasingly argued amongst ourselves about which of those four foundational entities bears the most promise or responsibility for defining who we are, not just in this case but in nearly every case. It doesn’t really much matter that the democracy here was New Albany city government. Nor does it matter that the church was St. Mary’s or that the corporation was Duke Energy or the independent business Abel Construction.
What matters is that when those four ever-present societal monoliths, representative of so much that we invest of ourselves and our willingness to believe, were called together under common auspice to work in conjunction with the full sovereignty we bestow upon them, they were collectively unable to do something as unexceptional as putting an ornament on top of a building without destroying something beautiful and natural that had managed to eke out an existence more precarious than we often care to acknowledge in the midst of all our rancor.
It doesn’t just raise questions about commonly held beliefs but rather about believing, in a much broader sense, at all. If the pursuit of monuments is that important to us, we’d do well to reconsider what’s worth monumentalizing, whether building them is actually better than nourishing them, and which is which.