"In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing." Words of Theodore Roosevelt apply to the most complex situations of national concerns and to the simplest concerns of everyday life. As easy as it seems to watch from the sidelines, the biggest rewards come to those who get in the game.
I was reminded recently by a friend about a trip we took a dozen years ago to San Francisco. On this particular venture we witnessed thousands of people of all ages and nationalities marching in protest to war. There were signs of peace and anti-war and the common chant made popular in the Edwin Starr song "what's it good for. . . absolutely nothing." Those words would reverberate back through the masses and serve as a contradictory slap in the face. What was it good for? Well depending on your beliefs, you can draw your own conclusion. As my 13-year-old son writes a class paper on freedom this week, I find it interesting as his theme transitions from freedom to war. The thoughts from a young mind explore the importance for standing up for what you believe in even if it means fighting for those that can’t fight for themselves. Will anyone but me and my sons 7th grade teacher read his paper? Unlikely.
Did the world respond to that protest 12 years ago? No. How about then President Bush? It probably didn't make his list of daily events. The people who seemed to take most notice were those backed up in traffic and the San Francisco cops who had to block the streets, and, quite frankly their interest was waning. As a tourist accidentally engulfed in this fray, I did snap a few pictures. People just don't look like that in Marietta. My destination was the historic Delores Mission, which somehow sat quietly and impartial in the middle of this uprising. There, I found a place that accepted all ideas on the current state of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, so I knelt and listened.
Meanwhile back in the less militant waters of Marietta our city had its own issues, and 12 years on, they aren’t much different today. Though quite less important to the world, they are important to Marietta. As Election Day 2015 is closing in folks will re-elect their mayor or choose a new one. City legislation platforms, best use options for The Armory, maintain momentum or forge a new direction. Those that favor Mayor Joe Matthews and those that favor John Hambrick have devoted lots of money and countless hours to state their case. As a citizen it's important to listen to the information on both sides and most importantly take a stand. If you can get above the rhetoric and weed out the real facts, you'll find that there might actually be a reason to care. This is not about a parade holding traffic up, it's about defining the direction of your community.
There is no right answer until you decide what it is. For the record, political issues in this very same town divided Marietta citizens back in 1873. Proposals, contractor plans, petitions, and as the Marietta Register would put it, "the new city hall was tainted with scandal, bid-rigging, and "old-boy pork-barrel politics." The slander suit was $5,000. It all blew over and people learned to love old City Hall, a project that had begun in 1871 and was dubbed an all-purpose building to be "large enough to accommodate all possible needs, and be an ornament to the city." The opposition called it "Satan coming into the garden to corrupt morals and deprave the elevated taste of the fine community." It burned down in 1935.
When you pull the lever at the voting booth, you sometime wonder if your vote really counts? It does. When you say a prayer, you sometimes wonder if it's being heard. It is. When you get involved in something you believe in, you sometimes question if it's right or wrong. It's right. Whether you express it openly or keep it to yourself, the reward is taking a stand. And, those who don't, you know what they get... absolutely nothing.