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  • Last modified 379 days ago (May 11, 2023)

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Finding reason in rhyme

Mario Cuomo famously said politicians campaign in poetry but govern in prose. Can a favorite, unattributed poem, cribbed from old-time advertising products, give us insights as valid as those of costly strategic plans?

I like to live in a little town,

Where the trees meet across the street,

Or, at least, they used to. Our neighborhoods are becoming clear-cut faster than the Amazonian rain forest.

Cut down a tree and you should be required to plant at least one replacement. Between sidewalk and street on every lot should be at least one tree, which government could help pay for — just as it could help build and repair sidewalks.

A bond issue that adds to or improves tree-lined sidewalks in residential neighborhoods would pay for itself in increased property values.

Where you wave your hand and say “hello,”

To everyone you meet.

Unless, of course, you happen to be boycotting or shunning some of your neighbors as if you were members of rival junior high cliques.

It’s amazing how little grace those who speak the loudest about Christian love seem to have for those with whom they disagree. Satanic venom spewed by these supposed Christians often targets people merely because they dare to talk about things others don’t want anyone to know about.

They want to keep everyone in the dark so they can do as they please — not exactly a hallmark of American democracy.

I like to stand for a moment.

Outside the grocery store

A moment may be all you have.

With hometown loyalty at an all-time low, residents are too eager to save pennies by buying from distant stores, websites, and chains, never thinking about how these pounds locally owned and operated businesses that contribute more than the few cents a consumer saves or the few low-paid jobs the other businesses provide.

And listen to the friendly gossip.

Of the folks who live next door.

Friendly? Only sometimes. And only sometimes can you recognize the folks who live next door, especially now that increasing segments of our housing stock are being converted into cheap, poorly maintained rental properties, attracting residents who spend more time at food banks and beer joints than they do contributing to the town.

For life is interwoven

With the friends we learn to know,

If, of course, they have been “friended” into your particular corner of the echo chamber wrongly called social media.

Chat forums that isolate us from people of differing backgrounds and opinions more appropriately are known as anti-social media.

They create intense divisions, reinforce irrational beliefs, and fan pointless flaming of others, unraveling the very fabric of our community.

And we hear their joys and sorrows.

As we daily come and go.

Unless, like many people, your default posture is that of an ostrich, head firmly implanted in sand, willing to hear only joys while ignoring sorrows that, by listening, you might find ways to correct.

So, I like to live in a little town.

I care no more to roam.

Provided you aren’t among those forced to leave because townsfolk seem to worry more about sporting events, locker rooms, and concession stands than about making sure schools are creating a new generation of highly skilled workers who can attract high-paying businesses and create entrepreneurial and service opportunities that help keep our best and brightest at home.

For every house in a little town.

Is more than a house, it’s a home.

Or, perhaps, a shipping container, guaranteed to reduce the likelihood of people building nice homes on reclaimed lots within established neighborhoods.

Plopping the cheapest possible home into already populated areas decreases property values while increasing the cost of providing utilities to new neighborhoods that are forced to sprawl outside developed areas.

The poetry, you see, is easy. Now all we have to find are leaders courageous enough to turn it into actionable prose.

— ERIC MEYER

Last modified May 11, 2023

 

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