August 8, 2017 > Editorial: A time to reflect
Editorial: A time to reflect
Many city councilmembers and elected officials in our area are in recess during the month of August, so it is an appropriate time for them to reflect on and renew commitments made to constituents. This time, however, is not without action for although council meetings may not be in session, administrative staff has no such hiatus. It is important to pay attention to all governmental movement, even if elected officials are not meeting. As ÒseasonsÓ change, none are without activity.
In a popular folk song of the late 1950s, Pete Seeger quoted the Book of Ecclesiastes almost verbatim in ÒTurn! Turn! Turn!Ó Rearranged and adapted by a myriad of musicians, styles range from the Limelighters, Judy Collins, The Byrds, Bruce Springsteen, Dolly Parton and even international celebrities including Marlene Dietrich singing a German translation. The song and its origin reminds us that although there may be ebb and flow in our lives, rhythms, actions and consequences are continuous.
The King James version of the Bible spoke of a nonstop life cycle that moves like a pendulum, back and forth. Everything has a place and purpose.
ÒTo every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven.Ó
As seasons change, a pattern emerges that appears to hold true throughout time. Behaviors that capture headlines and attention on a global and national scale can also be seen at the local level as well although not as well publicized. The Biblical text speaks of our own community relationships and issues whether gathering or casting stones, laughing, crying or reaping what is sown.
In its wisdom, Biblical verses advise of times to keep silent and times to speak. Some of our politicians would be wise to read and reread these words as a lesson in winning friends and influencing people. Dale Carnegie wrote a book using that thought as a title. His techniques, communicating with others with empathy rather than preaching at them, are not only an effective interpersonal tool for small gatherings but can expand to larger groups as well.
It seems that elected officials often forget simple dictums in favor of their own voice, focused on becoming the first among equals. Some donÕt seem to mind if they have exhausted the patience and sympathy of their audience. Is local politics the breeding ground of endless rhetoric that appeals to few and entices none? If this is the rule of politics on a state and national level, it may be that we can at least attempt to restrain the exercise of such nonsense from local politicians.
The text, whether Ecclesiastes, Seeger or The Byrds, is a universal guide to behavior and decorum in a global sense. All forms and levels of governance can gain from adherence to these phrases, one of the oldest codes in time. If local politicians take time to reflect on the meaning of the Biblical passage during their hiatus and, if state/federal representatives gather their thoughts during time away from squabbles in Sacramento or Washington, D.C. to listen to their constituents, returning to sessions with an invigorated sense of purpose, a positive flow of text can dominate.
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, a time to reap that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
From the seasons of life, letÕs focus on reap, build, laugh and dance.