Our town had elections a few days ago and elected a possible criminal. What was his crime? Burning the ornamental grass in his yard.
I pondered, as a concerned citizen, newspaper commenter, and article writer, if I should finally write a Letter to the Editor about my feelings on equality and the law. Do I dare? Do I question a government that refuses to answer deeper questions that I have asked in the past, directly of my mayor? Do I expose such a potential crime and criminal? Do I turn in a neighbor? Do I turn my head and try to forget my anger and judgment?
As a person who values integrity, positive role models, and honorable leadership, do I ignore the pangs of disgust inside, or bring them out in the open? We are all guilty, in some form or another of "mistakes," aren't we?
As the reader you deserve a little background.
In the last year or so, my city had meeting after meeting, hour after hour, to determine if burning your fall and spring yard refuse was legal. It was determined that a law had been on the books for decades that prohibited burning, unless it was in a metal container, or only on certain days, or something like that. This previously "obscure" law had not been enforced, or selectively enforced, as small towns have a habit of doing. It depended on "who" complained.
This seems a trivial issue, except for a couple of things. It exposes the larger issue of blatantly flaunting the law, and oh yes, a small matter of integrity. And then there is leadership, model vs. reality, that is.
Now, this burning incident was viewed by quite a few residents, even though it was done on a day when the children were on spring break, and the normal police protection squad was curiously not in the area. The police never showed up to hand out any warnings or tickets, that I could see, anyway.
To add additional insult, the leadership silently smiled, giggled and laughed as they mentioned the issue in the minutes of the city meeting, with a gentle "reminder" to the abusers, in the newspaper. This distorted form of ruse and ridicule has no place, anywhere, small town or large influential country. As secrets are kept, laws broken, and many people harmed, one can almost hear the laughter of the those who can laugh behind closed doors and minds. The rest of us are not amused.
And our children are watching.
What do I do, or not do? How do I explain my action or inaction to myself, my children?
Petty crimes, you say.
I argue they are not. They expose a larger issue of two-tiered legal systems. One for the elite, wealthy and powerful, and one for the rest. We see it everywhere, Wall Street and the banks, wars, corporate destruction of the earth and her inhabitants.
It is the stuff of complete death. Let us intend, only the demise of empires.