The Mining Pan Metaphor
When I had the privilege of speaking to Austin’s Interfaith Action of Central Texas, I used my timeworn mining pan, discovered on a Colorado hiking trip, as a metaphor that seems timely today. The rusted and work-worn relic had most of its structural shape, but the hole kept it from serving its highest and best use. The miner could retrieve some gold dust, but no nuggets until that hole was patched. This election represents the critical issues that can either patch or further erode the holes in our community mining pans. As we near the mid-term elections and move beyond, we have many opportunities to work TOGETHER in making our communities, States and Country whole.
How’d We Get Here? A Recap…
Post-WWII, the U.S. did amazingly well. A diversity of returning military heroes joined with business, government, schools, faith-based organizations, non-profits and a patriotic citizenry to address many opportunities for expansion, growth and innovation. Our immigrant-based communities had pride, energy and initiative. We became shining democratic role models for the world, even though people of color and other minorities were destined to feel the sting of discrimination and prejudice for years to come.
So What Happened? Why Such Widespread Anxiety in 2018?
We have become victims of our own initiative, human nature, corporate and political nature. We have taken our hard-earned success for granted, presuming the U.S. would always be “#1.” We’ve gotten soft, the politicos got greedy, special interests were eager to respond. Globalism took many of our best jobs, we’ve failed to provide proper education for our kids, job training for our workforce, and many wound up disappointed, angry and disillusioned. Our BIPARTISAN Congress has failed to serve our best interests over several Administrations, and enough voters were sufficiently mad to bring us Trump.
The 2016 election was not about Trump. It was an angry response to irresponsible government, hopelessness and a demand for change. And Trump was the brash, charismatic, hopeful catalyst for that transformative change in Washington. Many seasoned politicos were ignored in favor of the reality show host who could tell the incumbent slugs, “You’re Fired.” But, the gamble backfired badly. Trump is our worst nightmare. His political incompetence, lack of moral compass and inability to surround himself with solid counsel and Cabinet support put all of us in jeopardy. All while we’ve become distracted by our devices and ignored by too many elected officials. Because they could and we didn’t. We were all complicit by fault or default.
The Mining Pan and Mid-terms…Our Opportunity
We’ve had our well-deserved face slap. Now, in the Mid-terms, We The People have the opportunity to begin the corrective process. The hole in our national mining pan represents character, integrity, truth, compassion, personal responsibility, representative government, inclusion, kindness and love. When a large number of disenfranchised citizens awakened from a lengthy entertainment and social media distraction, they looked for someone to blame. Political culprits often joined/incited uninformed activists seeking “others” to blame for their plight. Immigrants, women, LGBTQ and the media became easy scapegoats. But, we know better. We are better, if we strive for better.
There is a tremendous energy about as progressive D’s, I’s and R’s are realizing the necessity of reclaiming our Country in the best interests of ALL our citizens. First, in the voting booth, then in a heightened commitment to the level of civic engagement that effectively supports our public servants. Our apathy, distraction, tribalism, and blind partisanship have contributed to the holes in our community mining pans. As with most challenges, constructive solutions start with our friend in the mirror. Let’s first VOTE, while encouraging family and friends to join us. Then, we’ll have plenty of opportunities to join in the active civic engagement that will patch our symbolic vessel. I’m encouraged as I experience the energy of good folks and great organizations that want to do better, that ARE doing better. May the Gods of Our Understanding bless us all in our efforts to serve each other, and be worthy of the tremendous sacrifices of those who’ve paved the way for this moment of enlightened, better-informed community stewardship. LET’S MOSEY!