I don’t have the answers. If I did, I wouldn’t be in a profession that questions everything.
I do know this though, we are living in a time that is like no other time. We have things we need, but are struggling to maintain them financially. There was a time we built up because money was flowing, but it’s not anymore.
So it seems we have to continually seek out creative ways to maintain what we’ve come to expect.
Tonight I looked at faces. I realize we wear our lives closed off to the public. Each of us too proud to show emotion. Each of us ashamed, perhaps, that we have emotions.
But we do.
Tonight, I covered a simple city council meeting with the notion that the fire department might be facing layoffs and the firefighters would be in attendance and might speak out on their own behalf.
They didn’t. They kept silent but showed themselves at the meeting. The thing was, their layoffs and downsizing wasn’t on the agenda. They just knew the talks going on in council and wanted to show a pressence.
So they were there at the meeting along with many other members of the public. Above is a photograph of a volunteer chief from Cornplanter VFD who was sick as a dog but felt it necessary to come to this meeting to show his support of the paid and trained Oil City department. His interest is in the need for this trained staff to assist them when necessary and how his department can help the city department.
On the same side of wanting the best for the community – but on the opposite side of how to do it – is the guy who is trying to figure out how to keep a city afloat. Not an enviable role! Each side has strong arguments for maintaining, as well as cutting. Each side is trying to figure a way to best serve the community.
So who is right?
I just look at the faces.
These are good people trying to figure it out. Money is the root of all evil – yet it is also the savior of democracy … or our republic … or our way of life.
We are blessed in this country in many ways, but we are a long way from figuring it out! So these little meetings in these little cities do actually have meaning.
What do we spend our tax money on?
Maybe it is in these faces we see that the answer comes to the foreground? Maybe? I don’t know.
I see good in most of these faces. I know the fire chief. I know the mayor. I know the police chief and I know several of the council members. I find them all to be good people trying to find a way to make life better for those around us! It’s not us against them here – at least not that I can see.
It’s a matter of something they can’t control necessarily … the economic culture of where we live.
We live in a tough time in a place that the economy has abandoned. The oil industry built it, then left it. So, we’re left to figure out how to redefine. During this finding ourselves comes the difficulty of transition and that can be devastating.
I grew up in Rhode Island and saw Providence go through this transformation – it took 20 years or more to turn a city that hit rock bottom to a beautiful destination again. Pittsburgh also has had this similar transformation. And the process wasn’t smooth, many bumps along the way.
So, I look again at these faces.
These faces are community. These are people who believe in their place. And that has weight!
I said earlier that I don’t have answers, and I really don’t, but I do believe the answers exist.
I was happy to hear a couple different people bring up, not falling back or hunkering down, but rather progressively seek positive change.
This will be interesting to follow and see who steps up and works toward a solution.
These faces don’t lie. There is a solution.