I've been traveling a great deal across our state over the last several weeks. Hammond, Angola, South Bend, Valparaiso, Shelbyville, Rensselaer, Vincennes, New Harmony, Warsaw, and certainly not least, Indianapolis. Most of these towns and cities have impressive glimpses back to our Hoosier roots. As my wife and I were returning from a conference in New Harmony last week we came through Indianapolis.
Not around Indianapolis....through it. And I have this quirk about making a pilgrimage-if downtown-to drive around the Circle. And so we did.....at 5pm...just as people were leaving all of the parking garages in the downtown. As we approached, a warm golden light fell on the monument's west face as the sun settled low in the horizon, and I looked out the rear view mirror at our Capitol building and for once it struck me...."are we Hoosiers today worthy of our roots?"
Maybe this is part of a larger question "are we Americans today worthy of our great heritage?"
We passed three large billboards between river city and New Harmony that sought more to enrage rather than engage the public in debate. Our great cities and intimate small towns were created by visionary people engaged in intellectual debates concerning the welfare of their inhabitants. They didn't plaster "enoughisenough.com" all over the countryside to secure votes.
I'm not trying to romanticize the past in any fashion other than to make the observation that what we aspire to today is really.....well.....nothing. Maybe it's to have the latest, greatest franchise restaurant set up shop on the highway outside of town. I know what the political parties aspire to....that's simple....control. And so this is what we have filling the void of intellect, ethics, and vision in our state and our nation. To put it crassly, we've castrated our minds and succumbed to believe whoever has the loudest message because we can no longer birth ideas ourselves.
I'd like to believe that there is hope. That someday civility and common good will outweigh the costliest message. That we will have raised a generation short on greed and long on conscience. Until that time I'm afraid we are at the mercy of tyrants gnawing at our very roots. Have you thought of this question "what does your community aspire to?"