He that lives upon hope will die fasting.
~Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard's Almanack
A few days back, didn’t I select as column title a famous line from Tin Pan Alley: “Just keep wishing … and cares will go,” as performed by vocalist Skinnay Ennis and the Hal Kemp Orchestra?
Now I'm struggling not to repeat myself.
In the New Albany Tribune of Sunday, January 2, Managing Editor Chris Morris occupies the editorialist’s chair, displacing the generic offerings from other newspapers in the chain that are reprinted at least thrice weekly, and resolves to look “ahead to the new year.”
Chris begins by conceding that he isn’t inclined to write about issues if he doesn’t have deep feelings about them, identifying public education, class basketball and local politics as three of the items most likely to cause him to “talk your ear off.” Surprisingly, Chris then proceeds to eschew sports entirely in a discussion of his hopes for the New Year.
He hopes Democrats and Republicans cooperate in Washington.
He wishes the best of luck to Mike Sodrel, commending his qualifications as a “straight shooter” who lives right here in New Albany.
He hopes Mayor James Garner finally picks a qualified building commissioner and laments opposition to the mayor from the City Council.
He reiterates his view of Scribner Place as “win-win” situation and hopes construction begins soon.
He hopes that a developer will do something with the soon-to-be-vacant Smith Furniture building.
After reading Chris’s list, I found myself hoping for something, too.
I hope that Chris someday realizes that as managing editor of a local newspaper, he has at least some degree of power to lead the transformation of hope into reality.
I hope he eventually sees that the Tribune can help define and articulate these issues, guiding the local dialogue rather than following it.
I hope he grasps that the newspaper must take itself seriously and aspire to a form of journalism that exceeds and leads local standards rather than struggles to barely attain them.
I hope he comes to understand that first and foremost, the Tribune must desire intellectual fitness in the same way that an athlete desires physical fitness, and must develop and sustain intellectual vigor by a desire to be the best.
Perhaps it is true that to some degree, we all are held captive by our limitations, but as human beings, we have the tools to analyze our deficiencies and to at least make the attempt to rectify them.
I challenge Chris Morris to try - just try - to transform the Tribune from an institution that meekly accepts the status quo to one that exemplifies rejuvenation and can serve as a symbol for progress in New Albany.
Just try. That's my hope.