Summer parties used to mean relaxed fun. These days, not so much. It's hard to act frolicky when occasional uncertainty gives way to chronic news fatigue. Muddled looks are revealed on even the most attractive of faces. And that's before ice hits the first cocktail glass.
Newport, and Rhode Island, have so much prospect. Why is our leadership so banal?
It's easy to say these are complex times, filled with unfamiliarity. But that's life. It's tempting to observe a statewide tendency to excessive public generosity. But that's liberalism. And, as I've already stated, clinging to “let's party and forget it” may soon require more potent fuel than spirits.
There's probably a less self-destructive way to reset our personal role and belief in good governance. It could begin right here, in town.
What if we were to agree, in principle, to making a universal commitment? Say--commitment to values oriented decision-making, rather than coquettishly overlooking political shiftiness and excessive personal gain through public matters. After all values are about prudent resource management. The question (always) is, where and how to begin.
What if every one of us agreed, individually, to provide specific service(s) to the community? These would have to add specific and lasting economic value. (Core practice for Newport's current stable of young entrepreneurs!) Each individual would choose their service, and then apply it, solo or alongside an institution, with the objective of working toward personal excellence.
Next, what if we acted as fiduciaries to our community? We would have to consider our actions for their potential costs to others and ourselves. Then we would have to act accordingly. It's possible to imagine each of us becoming more considerate with our words, our garbage, and our money. The policeman would want to enforce all existing ordinances (he doesn't, today); but, we would be okay because we would observe these laws, apologetically paying the fine when we err, rather than gripe, then taunt, a City Councilor.
And what if the City Council, for its part, practiced the skill of scenario planning? This is, very simply, looking at the implications of events that might happen, so that one is prepared for similar events when they do. For example, what if Newport's year-round working population was in decline? (It is.) There are lots of questions to be addressed around that, and interesting ones too, filled with vibrant promise.
I just thought I'd let you know what I'm thinking about, should you happen to run into me at a party this summer. If, when we make eye contact, you've already drained your cocktail--I understand.