I've been saying for years we need a new revolution. I think we're in the middle of one now. While I would prefer one without bloodshed and death, that doesn't look like it can happen so I'm hoping the harm will be minimal and the potential good .... well, revolutionary.
Here in my small, rural community, we've been involved in a few local issues that have reminded me what democracy and community is supposed to look like and it's given me hope.
This county is home to a historic courthouse. It's in serious need of some TLC and the county residents have been surveyed four different times about what they'd like to see happen to the old building. Each time, survey respondents have said they want to keep the courthouse and remodel it. A few months ago, a bond election was held to help pay for the construction costs. That bond failed. It had some issues... mostly bad timing.... while it got more than 50 percent of the vote, it required a super-majority (65%) so commissioners were sent back to the drawing board. Two of the three commissioners decided they would pursue a new building. The old building will be sold for a few dollars to someone if they think they can save it, but if that doesn't happen in two years, this little piece of history will be torn down. The two commissioners can easily out vote the other, so they're pursuing the construction of a new building despite what the community wants. This has prompted a recall campaign. Not so much about the courthouse itself, but because these two commissioners aren't listening to voters....or, as it turns out, anyone else.
Last week the same two commissioners voted to halt the live-streaming of county commission meetings over the county's official Facebook page. The county attorney, citizens who spoke at the meeting and every other county official said that was the wrong thing to do. They did it anyway. Two days later, they were forced to reverse their decision on legal grounds. I was watching the live-stream this morning. One of them wanted to block all commentary on the livestream. (He was informed they couldn't do that) He just doesn't get it. Government is supposed to be transparent and available to the citizens. And sometimes, that's uncomfortable for the elected officials. It's hard to be held accontable.
I've been gathering some signatures on the recall petition and have enjoyed talking to friends and neighbors. No matter what their political affiliations or background, the vast majority of the people I've spoken with have agreed that our current county commission needs to be reminded who put them in office. I'm seeing people unified over this issue in a place where that doesn't happen often. We might not agree on logistics, but we agree on principle. From there we can build relationships and find common ground. This experience has motivated me to be more involved in the community than I have in a long while.
Combine that with the corona virus and the issues surrounding it's spread and I think we can carry that old-fashioned spirit into something pretty beautiful. Every one of us has, I think, an obligation to serve when, where and how they can. Everyone has something to offer. Sometimes, it's as simple as exercising your rights as a citizen. It might also be reaching out to a neighbor who can't go out in the current health conditions. Maybe that person needs something from the store or a package mailed. We need to be checking on our friends and neighbors, offering thanks and support to health care and retail workers, truckers and farmers who are working hard to take care of the rest of us.
Those of you who follow this page know I've been craving and cultivating connection for about two years now. I'm thinking it's lead me to this place where connection is what will guide us through uncertain times. It's easy to find ways to build community. Here's a few suggestions I found on an Australian website, but there are others like this. Find what works for you.
If you're not in a place where you can be active in your community, your home is a perfect place to start. My kids, ages 17, 19, 21 and a bonus kid aged 24 are home this week. Yesterday, in the warmth of late winter sun, they played outside like they did when they were little. They've filled my den with art supplies and have been spending their evenings doing crafts. Yesterday, we cooked a family dinner and ate at the same table for the first time in months. I just got a text from a neighbor about a little dinner party taking place this evening with friends. Revolution doesn't have to happen in the large scale. It can be random acts of kindness in the home, neighborhood and community.
The current health crisis in the world and the political climate in the country is the perfect opportunity to reclaim the values that make a whole; compassion and community spirit.
If something's going to be contagious, I hope it's kindness above all else. If we're going to caught in the middle of any kind of revolution, let's make it one to reclaim our communities, our governments and our humanity.
What I'm reading: Untamed, by Glennon Doyle. This book is touching my soul in places I didn't know I needed healed.
What I'm listening to: My Discover Weekly playlist on Spotify.