Best leaders needed to take us into future
I love Southern Indiana, Indiana, the United States and the world. I have traveled all of these places extensively and believe it would be the most grievous sin to destroy them because we as humans want our way, or no way.
The news I read daily is filled with acts of hate and violence. People who are mad at not getting what they want are using weapons to destroy what they perceive as obstacles. These folks consider only their own lives as important and will feed their own wants at the expense of the wellbeing of their community or environment. Other events we read about describe the complete depravity of people who feel there is no hope, no purpose or reason for life at all. Add to this the atmosphere of the current presidential campaign discourse.
We were driving down Interstate 65 last week on our way to Harrison County for Easter. I have taken this route regularly for 46 years. It was one of those March days we get in Indiana when the sun and storm clouds play hide-and-seek in rapid succession. Maybe that heightened my sensitivity to the wonder and fragility of the place.
In 1970, one drove through the center of small towns and around county courthouse squares to reach the state capitol. I remember when the main entrance to Indianapolis was a meander through farmland, tourist cottages and undeveloped but pleasant looking rural towns.
Last week, we drove through intense construction on the interstate that can zip us home to Corydon in 2-1/4 hours if there is no halting of traffic to allow for the ever-needed highway repairs. Sometimes it seems that the land itself resists the need for smooth surfaces for modern cars and trucks. It is as if the earth is trying to keep us from going so fast, carrying such heavy loads and traveling so much.
The farm fields were a mix of brown corn stubs, standing rain water and bright green early winter wheat. I felt the promise of spring after a dormant winter. The fields appear larger these past few years. Huge irrigation machines stand ready for action when the spring rains cease. There aren’t as many farmhouses visible from the highway as there used to be, and those I can see are bigger and look more prosperous. As we drive south, several extensive horse farms dot the landscape.
Most interstate interchanges are crammed with the same commercial companies. The roads and parking lots are filled with vehicles rushing in and out to purchase or deliver goods and services. One feels the pulse of an active economic system at these consumer destinations, but, if you’ve seen one, you have seen them all. You need a map to know where you are; the developed landscape gives you not a clue.
Behind and away from the interstate often one can find a small town struggling to stay viable. Locally-owned stores and restaurants are more difficult to keep alive.
My trip down I-65 is similar to what I find all over the world; not surprising now that I can get to the remotest places on the planet via a smartphone or computer. We do indeed live in what the naturalist John Muir called ‘a house of one room.’ And there are big arguments and fights going on in this living room. The killing, shelling and terrorist attacks are alarming and scary but so are the mindless verbal political debates in our own country. ‘Punch someone out when you don’t agree,’ shouted a presidential candidate. Is this the diplomacy we need in this developing interconnected world?
Some of the debates sound like competitive survivor reality TV shows. This is our future we are preparing for. We need leaders at all levels of government who have experience and dispositions that will prepare them for meeting diverse people and challenging conditions. We cannot isolate ourselves from something we feel isn’t to our liking or avoid matters that aren’t politically convenient. There never has been more need for cool heads and caring, prepared hands.
At Easter, Christians observe the holiest time of the year. Our belief is that God is loving and asks us to also love others as we love ourselves. The example we draw strength from is that of a suffering servant who died on a cross for others, for us and our planet.
What are we doing with this guidance?
I try to respect those who hold different beliefs and to keep an open mind to their traditions.
Here are some really basic guidelines most of us can agree upon:
1. Anger and disparaging remarks about other people rarely produce good results.
2. A person’s word is a sacred commitment.
3. The world is complex and its issues need much study by diverse thinkers with input from a variety of sources.
4. Not all people agree with our ideas. They are going to challenge us, and we need to constantly keep dialogue going and realistic protections in place.
This is not a game show, folks. Too much is at stake. We need to discuss with each other what we want the world to be like in 10 years and make sure we have the best leaders to help take us there.