Recently, I made the decision to run for a local office. I figured after a lot of time of scrubbing shitters and shooting garbage out of the TDU, I would be a perfect candidate. Bilge diving seemed to also fit the bill so I filled out my paperwork to compete for a Township Supervisor. Not a glamorous job by any means. In fact, not a well paying one. Everyone learns your phone number and you find out quickly how mean you are for not fixing evey single pothole.
But I chose to serve. After all those years sitting on the sidelines complaining, it was kind of payback time. The race was nice and clean up until recently. Then the current supervisor woke up one morning and decided that he liked his paycheck as Roadmaster. Its a lot of money. So despite losing in the primary to both the Democratic and Republican candidate, he mounted a very aggressive campaign.
Tons of personal attacks. Lots of falsehoods. I was pretty cool with just letting it blow on past like a the effluent from Sanitary Tank number one on its way to the bottom of the ocean. Then he did something kind of irritating. Said I lacked courage. Said he was full of it. The guy never served a day in his life. Never contributes to veterans causes. Just a big ass taker with no understanding of what others sacrificed. I went off to serve in 1972. He just counted on deferments. Now he is trying to tell me about courage. His claim was that I had none. I don’t know. Maybe he has a point. But this was my response to the people who he addressed. My neighbors and friends.
What is courage?
The word means many things to many people. To anyone who has ever served in the military, we tend to shy away from that word. When you are in a business where every decision could be a life or death decision, courage is something that other people say about the people who gave their all or those who were simply doing their best. I would never call myself courageous, even knowing all of the things that I did or helped to do in those years of service. It would sound hollow. And fake. Ask anyone who has ever served.
I find that people who question other people’s courage have a very shallow understanding of the word. Especially if they have never really faced life and death decisions. It’s just another cheap word easily used to try and attack a person’s character.
Is releasing a plan courageous? That would be nice. I could get all kinds of stars for the hundreds of well-designed and executed plans I have created over the many years of my military and civilian careers. Those plans helped struggling businesses turn themselves around. They saved jobs and facilities from failure. I am proud to still provide that service through my work with the Westmoreland Community College Business and Industry group.
But frankly I see nothing courageous in releasing a strategic plan during the course of a campaign. It just sets you up for failure as your opponents have plenty of new ways to maliciously attack each single detail. It’s also interesting to see someone release all of their goals after twelve years of not doing the very things they say they will do. It’s almost like saying, forget about the actual record of what I have or haven’t done for twelve years. Look at this plan now.
Courage is thinking for yourself and thinking about the future. Courage is voting for people who will help the Township stop hemorrhaging people and the lost business opportunities because of a lack of vision and planning. Courage is saying you want open and honest government that responds to all of its citizens. That takes courage. You have two excellent candidates on Tuesday that can lead the community past the stagnation that is defeating us all. Neither of us has our hand out for a job that pays so much more than the average household makes in a year. Both of us overwhelmingly defeated the write in candidate during the primaries.
You have twelve years of data and facts to reflect on. Why would you think anything would change the day after the election? Frankly, your vote will empower them to do even less. For six more years. That doesn’t take much courage at all no matter what definition you use.
Thanks for letting me rant a bit. I have been to Arlington and the Cemetery at Normandy. I have walked the National Cemetery at the Punch Bowl in Hawaii and marveled at the names chiseled in marble. I have stood quietly on the monument that sits astride the Arizona and shed more than a few tears at each monument for our lost submariners. I know what courage is. Old boy should never have used that word about himself.