Author Thomas Wolf created a remarkable piece of literature in “You Can’t Go Home Again.” Anyone who believes those words has never seen a large basket of dirty laundry carried above two human legs waiting at the back door. Home from school, work, long absence, vacation, trouble — for whatever reason, most of us are comforted in knowing there is a place where “they have to take you in.”
When times get tough, we spend more time there. When illness strikes or money gets tight, smart families come closer together and reach out to others.
Such homespun sentiment wraps us like a warm cozy blanket, but it provides little consolation when a new year begins on a downward spiral. For some, there is no romantic “place” like the idyll described here. It’s especially true when a lot of home-like faith is placed in government.
Government knows that those “homes,” no matter how they are constituted, are the core of civilized society. Believe this: When we “talk the talk,” everyone agrees on the priorities: health care, public safety and community well-being. But “we can’t walk the walk,” says government, “because the money is gone.”
Back home, we wonder what we can do. All we really ask of government is that it do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. We must be grateful to those who serve us well, but governance should be a means for resolving our mutual problems.
We could adopt some new resolutions for 2009, but we’re not sure what to ask for or demand. After all, we might get it.
OK, here’s the deal. Let’s both clean house. We’ll use better judgment in the marketplace and in borrowing on tomorrow. You give us honest, straightforward oversight and information plus honest brokers in our daily transactions.
We will take better care of ourselves. You will assist in coordinating effective and accessible medical treatment and remove legal impediments to qualified professional care.
We will strongly support and assist in keeping our streets and our homeland safe. You will place the highest priority on finding ways to help our best and brightest shape our best and brightest.
We will find ways to conserve. We will both consider our finest institutions of learning and caring as extensions of our homes. We will both remember that the economy and the environment are not mutually exclusive. Preserve them both.
Remember the cartoon character Pogo? He’s the possum whose heartwarming homespun philosophy declared, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” We are the government and the government is ours. We hold those we love accountable. Can we not uphold that same standard for ourselves and those who represent us? Let’s put forth some achievable resolutions that demonstrate that we can bring it all home at decision time.
Happy New Year is a constitutional right.
Pat Glass, is a retired commissioner and volunteer member of the Southwest Florida Water Management District board. Write to her c/o Bradenton Herald Metro Desk, 102 Manatee Ave. W., Bradenton, FL 34205.