I don’t consider myself politically intelligent, but occasionally I need to express something about citizenship or leadership or government or community. If you are interested in those writings, they can be found in my “Politics and community” category. Many of the articles below have to do with my own local experience with politics and community, and a few are about national politics.
At a pre-election forum in the village where I live, several of the candidates spoke about their commitment to making sure we have “more police” keeping our neighborhoods safe.
There seemed to be a general assumption that this was a positive promise to make. But, frankly, I was hoping for more from the people who want to be leaders in my community. I was hoping for vision.
Now, I love my local police, and I appreciate their service. But I feel about police the same way I feel about doctors—I don’t want to need more of them! True health is more than just having the largest team of specialists.
“More police” is a not a vision; it’s a reaction. I expect more from my leaders.
Vision is about looking toward the future, not dwelling in the past or reacting to the present. It’s about learning from yesterday and using today’s tools to build an even better tomorrow.
I want leaders with vision. I want to vote for people who have ideas about creatinga community where fewer police are needed.
Because I want to live in a village where neighbors know each other and enjoy helping each other out. I want my local parks to be full of laughing, healthy families. I want my local schools to be teeming with new generations who are eager to achieve bold dreams. I want my local churches to joyfully participate in public life. I want my downtown to thrive with commerce—because businesses are eager to open here and people are eager to shop here. I want our annual Community Clean-up Day to be unnecessary because people are so proud of their village they would never toss even a candy wrapper out their car window.
Maundy Thursday this year falls only a few weeks after the launch of Common Ground, a cross-cultural relationship-building program my church family organizes and hosts. Common Ground gives people of different cultures monthly opportunities to have thoughtful, sensitive, friendly conversations about race and reconciliation.
People have participated in Common Ground for several years, and I have heard more than once that it is better than any “diversity training” offered by schools and workplaces. Why? Because Common Ground recognizes that reconciliation is a spiritual process, not a political or social one.
There is no greater reconciliation than the one between God and people. In fact, that reconciliation is what makes any other reconciliation possible. The sacrifice Christ demonstrated by moving into our neighborhood, the lengths God is willing to go to in order to get our attention, the sincere and selfless hope He has that we will respond—these are models for me in all my relationships, particularly the most difficult ones.
At Living Springs Community Church, we mark Maundy Thursday with a foot-washing ceremony. For some people (including me), this can be uncomfortable—it’s very personal, and unusual, and a little awkward.
But maybe that discomfort is necessary. After all, it was uncomfortable—scandalous, even—for the first disciples when their Rabbi knelt before them like a servant. Maybe that discomfort kept them from getting the point right away, but I’m guessing the image was burned into their memories and gradually seeped into their own relationships.
Last week I met Eric Crump. He’s the “Editor, etc.” (so says his business card) of a new local newspaper in a nearby suburb—the Homewood-Flossmoor Chronicle.
He started the Chronicle himself less than a year ago. because “a great community deserves a great newspaper.” Eric felt that our existing local newspapers—which give thin coverage to a wide swath of small towns as well as the major metropolis we are suburbs of—could not possibly do justice to all the smaller stories that are part of the Homewood-Flossmoor community. Gradually he added a couple other writers who share his vision, and together they publish 80–90 stories each month.
Eric’s not looking for big circulation numbers; he’s looking to serve just the small town where he lives. He doesn’t want wide coverage; he’d rather go deeper—on fewer stories if necessary
Sure, he’ll include the local high school basketball games, just like the bigger papers do. But he’ll also seek out stories about the Chess Club, and the Speech Team, and the Scholastic Bowl. And he’ll cover the local Rotary Club, the new Portillo’s, and the grand opening of Paintertaining.
So Eric spends his days in conversation with parents and students, business owners and local shoppers, village officials and substitute teachers, politicians and church leaders, pet lovers and chocolate lovers. He listens and asks questions and takes notes. Then he writes an article or a feature story or an opinion piece to share his findings with his neighbors and friends. Eric believes these small stories can have a big effect on community.
But Eric’s real dream is for the Chronicle to become a printed newspaper. While most of the big papers are reducing print runs in favor of digital subscriptions, Eric knows that many readers in his small town are more comfortable with paper than pixels. If he can work out the business model, he’ll fill that niche. Interesting, huh?
By the way, I met Eric because he expressed an interest in Common Ground, the cross-cultural relationship-building program I’m part of. He learned about Common Ground from a participant who also happens to be active in a local school that Eric wrote a story about. She connected Eric with me, and I invited Jason Perry to join us. Jason is a Flossmoor resident and fellow Common Ground participant.
The three of us met at Civilitea Gardens, a local small business that had just opened a few months previous. It was a perfect setting for our conversation—because Civilitea also seems to want to build community in their community, like Eric does. They provide a Mayberry-like setting where conversation comes easily. The owners will tell you everything you want to know about teas and herbs and natural ingredients, and then they’ll let you sit at a little table next to a bright window looking out at the foot traffic and bicycles, sipping tea for as long as you want.
So consider this my personal endorsement of the Chronicle, of Civilitea Gardens, and of community-building in general. Grab a fellow human and spend an hour sharing your stories over a cup of premium tea.
And if you’re worried you won’t have anything to talk about, read the latest community news from the Chronicle before you head out the door!
Last year, I posted a couple of blogs about Net Neutrality. Now, I understand that a name like “Net Neutrality” does not sound terribly exciting, but it is, in fact, a subject very important to the life we take for granted in America every day.
Many of you responded to my first Net Neutrality post by digitally signing a petition or making your opinion known in some other way. I appreciate that!
Obviously, we weren’t the only ones who took action. People all over the country made their digital voices heard.
And our President has responded. (See the letter at right.)
Not only has the FCC voted in favor of a strong Net Neutrality rule, but the President himself has issued a statement about his plan for “keeping the internet open and free.”
The White House has also provided a clear explanation of what Net Neutrality is, how it was defended by the American people, and the path of policies and petitions that led us to where we are today:
Net Neutrality, by WhiteHouse.gov
I think the whole issue is a fascinating example of regular people—the democracy—using today’s tools—the internet—to be involved in government, commerce, and personal expression.