My silence on this blog has been a trial. I’ve needed to have my attention elsewhere, but it’s been difficult not coming here in light of all that’s been going on.
I’ve written here now and then about hopes of the coming of an Age of Transparency, and then the dawn burst upon us and one of its names was Wikileaks. And like other dawns, it was even accompanied by a chorus, even a symphony, of tweets, and other social networking sites buzzing.
And like other beginnings, it became messy and sometimes violent. Very violent, as the revolutions and protests in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Bahrain and Iran demonstrate.
I doubt anyone will ever be able to draw a direct line from any Wikileaks document, specific FB post or tweet, to any resignation or deposing of any official anywhere, but that’s not necessary. There’s an atmosphere, a field of influence, a spirit, to which they all contribute and in which they reside.
I’m glad to see it. I feel somewhat vindicated by it, and feel certain Dad, parked in some celestial recliner somewhere, feels vindicated, too. If you’re so inclined, check out the latest addition to the library of his columns. There’s a subhead in that column that reads, “Visionaries Are Scoffed At.”
Dad was certainly a visionary, and I have inherited that particular gene, or curse, or blessing, depending on your perspective. At times it’s all three. It’s a wonderful thing because visionaries can see a beauty that isn’t yet, and be driven by that beauty, and try to make it real. It’s a horrible thing because there can be few or no others who can see anything similar, and when others pay any attention at all, it’s likely to scoff or worse.
When Dad left the newspaper and wrote that column, he was given a copy of it engraved in metal and framed. I’ve seen it nearly every morning since he died in 1997. It hangs in what may seem an odd place: in the kitchen, next to my coffee bar. I like it there because seeing it at the start of the day reminds me that I came by this visionary propensity honestly, and his column is proof that there are other people in the world who get it. It also reminds me that when scoffs and worse come, the appropriate response is, “So what?”
Twenty five or so years ago I set out on a path having to do with a particular vision of people being treated well, with respect, especially dis-empowered people, and how people in power treat them.
My attention focused first on child protective services, and how it can become better by treating everyone involved, including the workers, with respect. That focus of attention was by choice, and I gave it my all, even to making that the center of my doctoral research. Next, I became intimately familiar with the maltreatment of another state agency, this time not by choice. Bureaucrats who were more concerned with preserving their power than serving the populace did what they could to silence me through a different arm of bureaucracy. I gave my all once again because it was either fight or give up my credibility, and without my credibility, I would have no way to advance the vision I had about people being treated better, with honesty and respect. The fight took pretty much everything, literally, but I came out with my credibility.
I also came out with a sharpened vision, about how much bureaucratic maltreatment there is and how to reduce it. I’ve studied and researched and at times wondered if all this vision does is present a distorted image of a windmill on the horizon, and what a fool I’ll find myself to have been.
I’ll know better about that pretty soon. If it turns out I’m a fool for thinking I can do anything to make things better, so be it. I’d rather be a fool reaching for something beautiful than a cynic congratulating myself on rendering an accurate description of the mud on the ground.
But maybe I haven’t been tilting at a windmill. Maybe there is a way my experience and knowledge can be put to use to make a substantive difference. When the gubernatorial campaign started up last year, Peter Shumlin struck me as also being a visionary, and therefore someone who might be able to understand this vision that I see. I put in time on his campaign, and at a couple of campaign events buttonholed him about meeting with him after he was elected. Given the field of Dem candidates and their favorability ratings, he wasn’t “supposed” to win, but he did, and now I get to lay out the vision, along with the nuts and bolts of how to make it real.
Windmill, or something else? I have two meetings scheduled in the Governor’s office–this Friday, March 18, and Thursday, March 24. I’ll update here after those meetings.