Looking on the Bright Side
Lake Geneva’s new city council was installed on April 19th.
In theory the control of the city passed from the previous city council to the new city council. However, little will change because any true effectiveness of the city council to control the city has been squandered away over the years. The city council is still responsible and liable, but to a large extent the City of Lake Geneva is directed, controlled and run by staff, department heads, committees and commissions to which the City Council has become a rubber stamp.
Although this article is about local government, the same disassociation of actions and responsibility has permeated this whole society. The school system demonstrates this point very well. The education system is an opportunity to learn, but if a student is not learning, then who is at fault? The parents blame the teachers; the teachers blame the parents; the administration blames the funding; the sociologists blame society; the psychologists blame emotional problems; geneticists blame genes; both political parties blame the other political party and everyone else blames “The System”. To some degree all of these factors have an influence, but the one that should be in charge of learning and has the greatest influence over learning is not held responsible and that is the students. The pendulum has swung from blaming the student for anything, disregarding the above factors, to blaming the above factors and ignoring the student’s responsibility.
In government a similar shifting of responsibility and authority has occurred. The people are responsible for that shift in government and for letting government drift away from citizen control. Most people do not take an interest in government unless it’s a presidential election or an issue that directly affects them. Those that have been elected as representatives are rarely the best in our society, and most hold office for personal motives or agendas. Many elected officials like the prestige, but do not like doing the work involved, so many have pawned it off on unelected and appointed people and committees whom for practical purposes act with their own authority which is only subject to a cursory nod of approval by an elected body. The relinquishing of the authority and responsibility to write laws permeates this entire government from the local up to the federal level. Some examples of state & federal committees and departments are DNR, OSHA, FCC, FBI, CIA, etc. and some local examples are the Sewer and Water Department, Parking Commission, Lake Geneva Development Corporation, Utility Commission, etc. They all allow elected officials to bypass official responsibility by accepting a simplified one sided view from a ‘committees of experts’ as gospel rather than doing their job and becoming informed about the issue themselves. When faced with difficult decisions many elected officials defer to a committee or to an “expert”, which relieves them of the responsibility of their decision.
Change does not occur overnight, it takes time and just as it takes time to occur, it again takes time to reverse it, and that starts with a change of attitude. The word “fight” has penetrated the culture. There are campaigns to fight cancer, fight smoking, fight against drunk drivers, etc. “Fighting” is not the answer, that word creates the wrong attitude. One should take action to “overcome” something, not fight it. It is the difference in attitude between Martin Luther King and the Black Panthers. King’s positive attitude of “We shall overcome” versus the Black Panther’s negative attitude of “Anger and Force”. A positive confident attitude brings followers; whereas, anger and force breed hostility. Do not accept anger; do not return anger; let it pass through you like light through glass and it will be gone, otherwise you will become infected by it. The start of the solution to this local and national problem is that simple. Replace anger, hostility and blame with empathy, understanding and integrity. But nobody can do it for you, nor can you do it for anyone else. It’s time to get to work.
Some Brighter Observations