In a moment of clarity that only sorrow can bring, I realized communities move forward when we bury political factions and use political force to bring about lasting change.
Think about that for just a minute as I explain how I got here…
My friend Bill knew how to use political factions to create political force. He did it because he had to. His skill was something like how a road course racer uses his feet to help him steer. Sort of like riding the brakes and hammering the gas pedal at the same time. BRAC 2005 is a case study of his skill. During that intense, summer-long process, a transformation began to take place in our community. The factions faded. No more riding the brakes. Fort Smith was full-throttle, cherry red in its battle to save the 188th. We were a political force, on a mission of patriotism. For us, A-10 Warthogs are symbols of lasting change.
Thanks, Jeff Willard at Bedford Camera & Video. You brought out Bill’s smile.
In mourning losses, people cast aside political turfs and “do” for the grieving and the gone. Men and women do heroic things for people they don’t even like. I’ve seen it. What’s more, I’ve seen what feats people accomplish when they love someone. A friend who has quietly been “doing” simply said to me, “It’s called ‘living.’”
Last night I found polk salat living in a place it shouldn’t be. To some, polk salat is a delicacy to be savored in the springtime. To others, it’s a nuisance. Well, I love polk salat, but in the context of where this stalk was, it would be classified as a weed in even the most proper Southern circles. Soil was where it didn’t belong, allowing this plant to grow in broad daylight, but away from my daily point of view.
I cleaned up the mess, thanks to help from a neighbor.
It’s becoming clear to me that I need the help of people — friends, family and neighbors.
This week has brought me perspectives I’d never seen before. Maybe I’ve learned a few things about friendship. I think I’ve learned that sorrow brings moments of lucidity. Hopefully, I’ve learned to be more in tune to what I can’t see, and more curious about what I should see.
Should you see me point a finger at someone else’s mess, I hope you’ll share a steady hand and words of encouragement so that I can remove the unwanted polk salat from my own plot of land.
That’s how we bury political factions — by tending needs. Our own and those around us.
That’s how we create political force — by “doing.” Constructively and productively.
Maybe “lasting change” will be a phrase used to describe our lives on this earth.