For those of you tenacious (or bored) enough to slog through this article to the end, I’m going to make an important point here. I’m just going to take a very circuitous route to get to it…
My dad (RIP) was a hard man. He was a die hard AFL-CIO bricklayer, an Old World, Roman Catholic Italian immigrant who – with my sainted mother* (RIP)- raised a family of nine. He was forced to leave school in the 7th grade to help support his family and was the sole breadwinner of ours. In spite of that, he died a millionaire, due only to his own tenacity and pluck. I learned most of what I know about people and life from him, though we didn’t get along at all while he was alive. Today I’m going to share his most important gifts to me with you. Not that I think it will really make any difference to you – in fact I’d be stunned to find that 6 people have read this far – but I have a self imposed mandate to make the effort. So here goes…
As far back as I can remember my dad used to tell me – and anyone else within earshot – that “…this (fill in the blank) wouldn’t be happening if we weren’t putting up with it.” Invariably the “this” concerned something the government was doing or not doing or planning or something. Like taxes or restrictions or prohibitions or mandates, whatever. He had a deep and abiding distrust of government and those in it, which he passed on to me genetically. He was also remarkably intolerant of many – if not most – of his fellow men; especially those who bitched, complained and grumbled about everything but did nothing. As well he should have been – his family was forced to flee Mussolini’s Italy after watching it deteriorate from a vibrant, prosperous, self sufficient paradise into a socialist hell because too many ‘good’ men did nothing while their government dismantled the country.
My dad did not do nothing. He was a prolific letter writer, phone caller and meeting attender and he made sure his elected officials knew, in excruciating detail, what he thought about things, good or bad. He contributed to his Church, our schools and our community by rolling up his sleeves and getting dirty. With negligible exception, if someone asked him for help, he did. But he really didn’t need to be asked, in many cases, when he saw things going in a direction he considered unacceptable, he got involved and did his level best to make things better. And therein lie his second most important lesson to me: “…those bricks won’t lay themselves…” Nothing ever gets done by people bitching about what other people are doing or not doing; someone, somewhere needs to man up and get dirty (so to speak).
And so it is with, well, literally everything, but specifically our local government. (You just KNEW there would be a point to this, didn’t you?) Without sufficient good people willing to commit the time, effort and resources necessary to organize and pilot our civic ships to their respective horizons, I can absolutely guarantee you there will be plenty of bad people eager to take the helm. And as the saying goes: “all that is necessary to the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing…” Here in Concord Township we have quite a smattering of good people, I know. I’ve met them, conversed with them, conducted business with them, volunteered with them, worked with them and I’ve lived with them for the last 40+ years. What I’ve seldom been able to do is get them motivated to get involved with their government – or even to get them to attend our meetings. I’m at a complete loss as to how to change that, but change it most definitely must.
For the bulk of our collective history Concord Township has been well and truly blessed with a cadre of excellent elected officials. From my time in this position I can honestly testify that the Administrative staff I am working with now are the most dutiful, dedicated, honest and decent people I have ever worked with. The institutional knowledge resident in this group spans well over 30 years which is nothing short of awesome. They are competent, capable, effective and technically gifted. We are so, so fortunate to have them.
But they will not be here forever. And you, dear reader, as a member of this community need to start planning for that NOW!
The only constant in life is that things will change; people get sick, they die, they quit, move, retire, change jobs, whatever. Sometimes there is time to plan and sometimes not. In this case I am telling you today that we will be losing 2 of our Administrative team within the next 12 months, very likely within the next 8. The time to start the replacement process is now. Right now. If we can find people willing to serve and make the commitment we can start passing on the institutional knowledge necessary to effectively manage this Township. If not…..
Look, I know these are all elected positions and you can never predict what you are going to get with a newly elected official. Some come with experience, some not. Some turn out good, some don’t. It’s like throwing the dice against the wall. In this instance we have an opportunity to exercise managerial influence over who assumes these positions and thus at least gain some direction on our collective fate. Or not. It’s up to us.
So, if you have any interest in making a contribution to our community I encourage you to make yourself known to us: message us through the website or FB page, email, call or write, or drop in to the office and chat.
Or pick up the dice and throw them against the wall – after all, what have you got to lose?
*[What?! You think there’s any possible way a woman with all those kids can work outside of the home too? Are you nuts?!?]
Till next time