By Stanley Campbell
Let’s suppose that the Mayan Indians are correct: 2012 will be the last year of existence for this little planet. I’m not saying the world will end at the close of 2012, but those Indians predicted the Spanish conquistadors. So, when I make resolutions for the coming new year, maybe it will take on more significance if I think they’ll be my last chance at change.
I already quit smoking, and I exercise more, do yoga and eat right (fewer animals and more vegetables). But here’s the tough ones:
1. No more Tea Party jokes. Even though that guy’s article last week was full of holes (I have not been to any Occupy meetings, so I haven’t had the opportunity to get yelled at by him), I hear he is the one who badgers everyone else. Apparently, there are some Tea Party members talking to and finding common ground with the local Occupiers. This guy is none too happy, and is antagonistic with anyone who disagrees. Too bad, there’s a lot to do about cleaning up government that both the right and the left can — and should — agree upon. As a friend of mine says: the American eagle needs both wings to fly.
2. I will stop buying so much stuff! I am a collector of history and love political items, especially from civil rights and peace movements. I usually scour antique malls and used book stores and buy anything even remotely related to a social justice. But I resolve to keep my money in my wallet and begin sharing my collections with the public or young activists. But I will still accept gifts!
3. I am going to get more involved in local politics. I have an old peace button that says “Think Globally, Act Locally” and am beginning to understand that sentiment. I can work for peace in Afghanistan and support the Arab Spring, but when my local Forest Preserve Board spends money on a less-than-ideal piece of property, it affects me more.
I want to learn how to win local elections. For example, I’d assumed, as did many of my environmental friends, that if we just mentioned the names of 10 good candidates, the electorate would go out and cast their votes for those people. How wrong we were!
What we should have done, and what I plan on doing, is learn how to win local elections, because we lost the little treasure of a forest preserve district to politicians who seem to have little regard for the environment.
Political positions are plums and can grant powers to make friends happy and wealthy. An elected politician can disburse taxpayer-funded jobs and direct cash gifts as long as there’s a majority on the board or council.
I was too naïve and trusting. I assumed the forest preserve board members would be like our Rockford Park District Board: they’d carefully manage the people’s property. But with a 4-3 split board, we’ve seen our resources threatened.
So, with the election in November, I’ll be encouraging people to vote in the state and national elections, but I will work hard for good candidates on our local Winnebago County Forest Preserve District Board. And I will stay away from that Tea Party guy.
Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.
From the Dec. 28, 2011-Jan. 3, 2012, issue