My Magic Broom Encounter
I’m a believer in uncoincidental coincidences. I’ve had too many not to be. And there’s usually a metaphor in there somewhere. Certainly the case here. I’d popped up early at a retreat center, grabbed my camera and headed outside in search of morning landscape shots. However, this simply elegant handmade broom stopped me in my tracks.
While it was obviously a useful household tool, it was also a work of art to those who appreciate the workmanship of the craftsman’s hands. As I engaged this found treasure, its potential for metaphor became apparent. The broom’s significance was in the hand and eye of the beholder. In the right hands, it could sweep clean to establish a refreshed environment for new beginnings. In more cynical and careless hands, it could be used to sweep stuff under the rug, delaying an honest response for a number of reasons. Or purposefully leaving the work for someone else. Sound familiar?
The Broom’s Transition to Better Hands
Our metaphorical broom has had quite a roller coaster ride post-WWII. In good hands, building businesses, homes and lives. Our institutions served their purposes. We were an aspirational, can-do, proud Country. The American Dream was a reality for most, though pockets of inequity could be found then, as they are today. The broom kept things clean.
Since people can’t help being people, and our institutions reflect their people, we got too prosperous, got lazy, neglected our institutions, and started sweeping our difficulties under the rug. We rested on our laurels, were fed the “we’re number one” mantra and thought a series of bipartisan Congresses were doing their jobs. They weren’t. We wound up with the dysfunctional government that upset so many that Trump was elected as a hopeful catalyst for change. We know how that’s turning out. There are not enough rugs under which to sweep this mess. The Mid-Terms were the sign that the good guys and gals were coming to the rescue. The broom is back in better hands.
The Hearts and Minds and Brooms of Civic Engagement
The recent Mid-term elections were an affirmation that a majority of our fellow citizens, of all ideologies, are ready to reclaim this Country for the values that gave us a good start in this exercise of self-governance. We want to sweep the town square clean of the incivility, bigotry, racism and fear-mongering political rhetoric that have typified too much of our public discourse. We’re better than this only if we act better than this. I’m encouraged by the power of civic introspection that is leading us to rethink how we act as stewards of our communities. As elected officials and those who support them. Case in point.
These great Texas Legislators were kind to take some time out of busy schedules to discuss effective civic engagement with me. Our votes for them enable their votes for us. Our elected and appointed officials need our support as counsel, sounding boards, advocates and financial contributors so that they can represent our best interests. I asked that they consider how they can coach us to best complement their efforts and that of their staff associates. We each can take the initiative to better communicate with our public servants, and determine how we can best serve them.
Using The Broom For Good
So much better to use the broom to keep things clean and orderly, rather than as a tool for avoiding or deferring problems. We’re sweeping out the bad bipartisan politicos and seeking to replace them with those who honor people and Country over Party. This will take a couple of election cycles, but the positive momentum is building. As usual, we first must persuade our Friend In The Mirror to appreciate the importance of effective civic engagement. Our communities need us. We need each other. We all win. Together.