Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Murder of Crows, A Plague of Politicians, an Augur of Activists

Where do good roads lead?
I love collective nouns. The poet Ogden Nash paid homage to a splendid selection of them. From time to time I add a few of my own to existing ones like ‘a Murder of Crows’. I favor: a Plague of Politicians, an Augur of Activists, and a Crisis of Community...

Did you know that somewhere between One Side and The Other, are people who feel no compulsion to take sides? They live out their lives in other pursuits. This kind of non-conformity intrigues me. (It strikes me as non-conformity because others are so quick to jump into the fray; those who think before they leap are rare.) Their lives are meaningful, even better than most. (Oh okay, maybe they are a bit boring…)

Then there are those who live on a steady, heady diet of political turmoil, self sacrificing activism, community uprisings… breaking news, emergency meetings, indignation, outrage, revolt… gossip, libel, slander… right, wrong, righteous, and renunciatory.

It’s heady stuff: this Crisis of Community. I was once in the thick of it. I paid the price. And I guess I really am glad others want to take up that mantle. But at what cost? I have formed surprising relationships with remarkable community activists and I care for those who are in it up to their um, Levis labels. I hate to see them sacrifice so much that can never be regained. The personal cost is tremendous. Is it worth it?

How do they do it? How do they dedicate themselves so fully to responsibility that was never theirs? Well, frankly… nothing else matters. (Apologies to Metallica.) Family is shunted aside, friends are forgotten, vacations postponed, jobs are lost, disability checks and unemployment checks become income, taxes go unpaid, homes are sacrificed to foreclosure, health issues are ignored, marriages are threatened, relationships ruined, and that’s just the beginning. It’s an addiction!

Is it wrong to do right? Well it is expensive. I’ve been watching the price others are willing to pay. Are the dividends a fair return? Beware the political promise of a ‘place at the table’, or the act of martyrdom. When the fateful and historic election/cause/controversy is over, no one remembers who led it, although many claim it. Community involvement as a whole is a given though later unacknowledged. 

Consider Home Depot, Commerce Avenue, the Senior Citizen Center, the FBCSP, Land Use Committees, STNC activities, Samoa SB1818, Mount Gleason, and more. And I'm not even mentioning politics. See what I mean? If you are Sunland Tujungan, chances are your blood pressure just shot up. Yet no one agrees on any of these issues nor who the champions were and are. It’s not that these efforts aren't meaningful, they are. But at such a cost. Who paid that price?

On the other hand I can’t stop reading Mop and Bucket, Street Hassle, the Foothills Paper, the Sunland Tujunga Alliance website, and the Sunland Tujunga Neighborhood Council bulletins... (I have cut the Foothills Forum from the lineup however, one must have values!)

And I can’t say I don’t get palpitations at the hint of a racy story or a new Joan of Arc pursuing the noble cause… Oh no! I’m hooked. I'm a Sunland Tujungan... Write on, all you political-activist-community-crisis-leaders, write on.

The community is reading.