Thinking Local

Like a lot of folks, I must admit that my focus on local politics is lacking. I absorb some information here and there, mostly from overhearing conversations. I’ll hear complaints about it from customers in the store. I’ll see it on social media. I don’t currently watch local news stations or get the paper. An acquaintance recently pointed out that my approach to knowledge seems more macro than micro. I love national and international politics. I love political theory.

Which is all well and good and fun, but when something big happens in my personal sphere, I often find that I don’t know enough about it.

The good thing about knowledge, however, is that it is prevalent. I can ask opinions from people “in the know.” I can catch up on archived articles. I can read commentary in response to articles and get a feel for the community view. There are always plenty of mild and extreme opinions on all sides. It’s fascinating to see the contrast. It’s also fascinating to see how many people are absolutely sure they have all the answers. Even when it’s clear that they don’t.

I don’t. I don’t have all the answers. Which is why – despite the opinions of some, I’m sure – I have a fairly moderate view of politics and the world. With enough research and considerable thought I can find a pretty good reason to support any side. But I’m always the first to admit that I could be wrong. In so doing, I’ll always point out that you could be, too. I think that’s fair.

Here in my town, the town of Redding, there’s a mini-revolt going on. The effects of national and state politics have created a condition of turmoil in our city, and everyone is looking for someone to blame. A recall effort has been launched against members of the city council. The city council has tabbed a new city manager. The city manager has dismissed the current police chief. This has been one heck of a week.

My week-long inquiry into these matters leaves me woefully unprepared to state an opinion as of yet. For some of you, that might come as a shock. For others, who know me as a fair-minded and methodical study of human nature and human affairs, maybe not. But I can tell you that I think we have a problem. We have a problem at the national level, we have a problem at the state level, and we have a problem at the local level.

The problem at the macro level is a problem of inequality. There is a lack of proper services for the citizens in this nation. There is a lack of access to quality education. I’ve pointed all that out before.

But at the micro level the problem is a different one. It is caused by all of the above factors, but we can only work with what we are handed. We’ve been handed crap. It stinks.

What can we do about it?

Well, we can fire everyone on the council, if we want. We can fire police chiefs. If we want, we can raise taxes and build jails. We can cut salaries and add staff. We can point fingers until we’re blue in the face. Will all of that make it better?

I don’t know. If today’s blog is about anything, it’s about how much I don’t know. It’s also about how much I’m willing to learn.

I’ve read some pretty good things over the last week about this subject, and some pretty terrible things, too. The best overview I’ve read so far on the matter is the one this morning by R.V. Scheide in aNewsCafe. Fair. Sensible. Broad. It’s exactly what I’ve been looking for all week. Does he have all the answers? Hell, I don’t know. Does anybody?

I’m going to take another look at what he said in a minute. And I’m going to keep digging in and looking for answers. I’m going to think micro. I’m going to act local. I am going to help, if I can.

Samuel Johnson said it is always a writer’s duty to make the world better. I don’t know that I have the ego to think I can make the world better, or even the ego to call myself a writer. I don’t have the ego to compare myself to Samuel Johnson.

But I do have the willingness to learn and the will to try.

In that matter, as in all matters, I appreciate your help.

5 comments on Thinking Local

  1. My problem is I couldn’t give a rat’s asshole about this place we now live. It’s the city where culture goes to die and a black hole for humanity.

    1. I just told this to a very important man in my community, at the local bar, at church: “I don’t pay attention to local events, you’ll have to fill me in. Ask me anything national.”

      I guess I haven’t thought local much at all, recently…

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