Ocean Springs Sometimes it can be embarrassing to live in Louisiana. When it’s not the governor making a fool of us in service to ego and ambition or one of the Senators currying to prostitutes and another always turning tricks for oil companies, it’s someone like Phil Robertson, the duck man, leading the hater brigade and forcing the A&E channel to admit that it’s really not about principles, but it’s all about the money. All of which makes it refreshing for me to read the op-ed Times’ columnist and Louisiana native, Charles Blow, prove regularly that one can come out of Louisiana with both a head and a heart.
Blow at year’s end reminisced about growing up poor in rural Louisiana and celebrating New Year’s with black-eyed peas for good luck and greens for good fortune, but he also shared his resolutions which are worth all of us heeding:
1. To stop treating politicians like sports stars, political parties like teams and our national debate like sport.
Politics is not a game. There are real lives hanging in the balance of the decisions made — or not made — by those in power. Often, those with the most to lose as a result of a poor policy move are the most vulnerable and most marginalized. Those folks need a voice, and I will endeavor to be that voice.
2. To force politicians to remember, with as much force and fervor as my pen can muster, that they are servants, not rulers.
A democracy is a government by the people, for the people. Politicians too often bend in the presence of power. They believe that it is they who possess power, rather than the people who elected them. And power and money are kissing cousins; you will rarely find one not cozied up to the other. Money is corruptive, and power addictive. Together they work against the greater good. That cannot stand.
3. To remember that justice is a natural aching of human morality.
In the core of most people is an overwhelming desire to see others treated fairly and dealt with honestly. That is not a party-line impulse but a universal one. I will do my best to highlight that basic quality. For instance, I believe that there will come a time when we will all look back at the brouhaha over same-sex marriage in disbelief and disgrace, and ask: Why was that even a debate?
4. To focus more fully on the power and beauty of the human spirit.
Regardless of their politics, the vast majority of the people I meet, when they can speak and listen and act of their own accord and not in concert with a group, are good, decent and caring people. Most work hard or want to. They love their families and like their neighbors. They will give until it hurts. They fall down, but they bounce back. They are just real people, struggling to get a bit and get by, and hoping to share a laugh and a hug with an honest heart or two along the way. That is no small observation and not one of little consequence. I believe that I can write more about those traits.
Those are my resolutions, ones I will strive to keep, ones I’ll reflect on even if I fall short. What are yours?