Posted on

Common vision needed for future endeavors

Common vision needed for future endeavors Common vision needed for future endeavors

The town elections are over, the votes have been counted and the winners have been announced. Some folks are happy with the results, and others are not. That is how it works in a democracy. Not just one point of view is represented, but a variety of perspectives that mirror the citizenry.

We all grump about the discord in our national congress. We decry the partisan political nature of discussions that stall actions toward resolving problems which affect our everyday lives. We want to yell, “Stop quarreling and take action on health care, our failing infrastructure, security threats, the economy and education.”

Let us not replicate that adversarial stagnation here in our home towns.

The real threat to our ability to maintain a democracy is not from those with strong opinions and actions, but in those who are indifferent or not engaged. Some folks think that voting is their only role in running our governments. They voted and perceive that if their favored candidates won, they will do what they want them to do. Or, if their candidates lost, they think there is nothing they can do because the enemy is in power.

This is not a winner-take-all-kind of governance, this thing we call American representative democracy.

Yes, the political contest is over, and now the heavy lifting starts. This is not a spectator sport like football. During Indianapolis Colts football games, I yell, talk to the referees and jump up and down whether I am in the arena or at home in our TV room. But, no matter what I say or do, I will not be able to impact the game. We, the public, support professional football players who follow the lead of their coaches. They train, build up muscles and learn how to execute plays according to the team plan. We merely watch them do their thing as we scream and eat our popcorn. Not so in a democracy. No one can or should sit on the sidelines and watch the current gladiators go after each other as professional athletes are want to do.

Frank and Robert O’Bannon were in the state senate for a number of years. Rarely was their party in the majority. They could have just retired to the background, disgruntled and ineffective. But, as Frank always said, “We can get a lot done if we don’t care who gets the credit.”

Both Frank and Robert were peace makers, consensus builders and were held in high regard and respected by members of the majority party. A democracy is often held together by negotiations and compromise. This is not a dictatorship where the majority crams their wants down everyone’s throat. Nor do we profit by the minority serving merely as a group of obstructionists.

We live in an area we love dearly. We realize many ways of working and thinking are changing rapidly. We have enough challenges to keep us all engaged and busy. It is to our advantage to work together avoiding disagreements and counterproductive actions. People of goodwill are always best when they work together. Remember the old adage that if we are split and divided, we can be conquered.

Not everyone is going to agree on how and where growth should happen in Southern Indiana. But, we do need a common vision of what we want to be in the future. We need to consider every option that looms before us. You may come out of a public meeting all churned up inside because you disagree with the outcome but keep going to the meetings and making your voice heard. Go with civil tones in your voice, well thought-out ideas and an open mind. The trick in life is to figure out how to live productively with a positive disposition in a world of conflicting situations and interests.

So, winners in these recent elections, congratulations. Take a victory lap and then settle in to four years of respectful negotiations, compromises and changes. To those who lost their election bids, don’t go home feeling dejected and not needed. Know that your job is to be the loyal opposition that keeps the conversation broad and rich with opportunities.

In all of this, I thank those who are willing to be public servants for the good of our towns. Serving in an elected office is an awesome responsibility that is often rewarded with groans at the local coffeehouse. We do not have kings or servants in our country. We have citizens who all must participate if our free country is to stand tall in the universe.