A long and difficult winter seems to have finally ended.   In Garrett County, the season was baiting and cruel.  Our first heavy snowfall dumped upon us by Frankenstorm Sandy in October, followed by a bizarre autumn melt and mud season, followed in sequence by a half-dozen or more of these painful accelerated cycles: cold, snow, warming, melt, mud, repeat.  In the lengthening April daylight, the final late-March snow cover has reluctantly melted, and as the dark-brown mud and grey matted grass reappears, so does my desire to write.
My winter has been filled with listening to others’ storytelling as well as adding a few notable chapters to my own personal narrative.  Around the national campfire we call mass media there are some notable storylines -- pick your venue, channel, or favorite social media feed.

REFRAIN:  The stories we tell about ourselves are powerful.  They carry intention.  They carry resignation.  

VERSE: The American two-party political system is broken and dysfunctional.  Our elected officials cannot perform the most basic of governing and legislative tasks; they care more about the funding that will purchase their image-and-media-fueled re-election campaigns than they do serving the needs of their constituents. No matter public opinion.  No matter social imperative.  No matter decline.

VERSE: The right to bear arms [heavy pause] is a sacred American right.  It protects us: from each other, from an overreaching government, from outsiders and those that are not one-of-us, from evil.  Guns confer power and self-reliance.  No matter that the writers of the Second Amendment had no imagining of an AK-47 or other such future creation.  No matter that a striking majority of Americans support making it harder to own weapons of war.  No matter that the evil now regularly comes from one-of-us.  No matter if it’s harder to acquire a driver’s license than a gun.  No matter.

VERSE: American government is too big and is failing.  It must be cut, it must be pruned, it must be starved and leaned in the most dramatic biggest-loser-like fashion.  The basic services of government: roads, schools, social services that act as a safety-net for our elders and the neediest among us – take them to the chopping block!  No matter that paying for our democracy is an act of patriotism; no matter that civil service, once an honorable life’s work, is now being gutted and out-sourced, no matter that private corporate America while hungrily devouring the out-sourced pieces of government owe no loyalty or service to the people.  No matter that they serve only the market & consumption.  No matter that (recent) history is littered with examples that these private enterprises do not have the interests of the people at heart.

REFRAIN:  The stories we tell about ourselves are powerful.  They carry intention.  They carry resignation.  

I’ve been thinking about these stories that we tell, and thinking about new stories that I hope we tell. 

New stories about a government that is effective.  New stories about elected officials that understand and appreciate that the drafters of the Constitution consciously built a structure for governing that was designed for compromise and balance – understood that compromise is at the heart of our democracy, and that compromise is an act of strength and patriotism not of weakness.

New stories about a Second Amendment that doggedly preserves the right to bear arms but is balanced with controls that protect our lives and the lives of our children from an increasingly violent and unbalanced society.

New stories about the compassionate heart of our nation.  New stories about our intelligence and integrity and cultural richness and diversity -- about functional and high-performing public schools, about visionary investment in the infrastructure that will fuel our future, about functional civil service agencies that once again attract the best and the brightest and stand guard to protect our collective interests against unconstrained corporate capitalism that wishes to only inspire consumption with no regard to our higher selves or the higher calling of our democracy.

I hope to tell these new stories.    


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