View Mobile Site

Ask the Expert

Signal Photos


Gary Horton: Something to which we can all agree

Posted: July 9, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: July 9, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Kathy Norris of the Valley Industry Association paid me a visit a few weeks ago as part of a local business survey.

Kathy hangs with business leaders who are overwhelmingly Republican, and there’s a good chance that in visiting me she was expecting to meet up with a wild-eyed crazed socialist, who like Obama, doesn’t have a real birth certificate and takes marching orders from Radio Moscow and Fidel Castro.

Well, not really — but see how what I described didn’t sound so different from today’s everyday outrageous political discourse?

Americans have learned to speak in exaggerated terms of what separates us, not of what unites us. We press our differences instead of collaborating toward common good.

We have become a fractured nation at war with itself, with special interest, political party, and, sadly, even race, locked in Internet wars, Super Pac wars, and pundit wars — fighting over power, influence, primacy.

We’re a nation of “My way or the highway,” and the dissonance, friction, and lost opportunity is tearing at our internal fabric and debasing our international status.

“One Nation Under God” has become a mockery as so many Americans view those unlike themselves as defective, unpatriotic, un-American, and even evil.

But back to Kathy from VIA. We discovered that, political labels aside, we share considerable commonality — as, in fact, most of us actually do once the mostly overstated, overheated rhetoric cools off.

We were discussing overarching concerns and the topic of civic mindedness came up. I told Kathy a story I remember from a family vacation to Finland we took a few years after my LDS mission to that country.

We’d been driving through never-ending forests when we stopped at one of Finland’s 50,000 lakes. Walking along a long sandy beach, we happened upon a small wooden rowboat set on a stand along the shore with oars placed neatly inside.

Painted on the side of this old wooden boat were the words “Pelastus Vene,” meaning “Rescue Boat.”

Carrie and I immediately recognized the uniqueness of this from our Californian eyes. That old wooden rescue boat had likely been on that shore unmolested for a decade or two.

Tens of thousands of Finns would have come and gone, and still that boat remained intact, undisturbed, undefiled, and unpilfered — ready for public service when needed.

Just think how long a small rescue skiff would last out on Malibu Beach or Castaic Lake if left to its own defense?

Pick its fate: within days or months it would be either graffiti-marred, broken or stolen. We’ve come to expect this kind of abuse of public assets in too many public settings.

And the abuse we tolerate upon public assets is too often also mimicked by the abuse we heap on each other.

Why has America become this way, where we tolerate ill treatment to our public property and even to one another? Where is our civility and our regard for our common public good?

Kathy and I agreed that the answer is surprisingly simple. We’ve accidently created a modern American culture emphasizing “individuality” while failing to equally promote civic-mindedness, civility and common responsibility to our public spaces and to each other.

Yes, I said our responsibilities.

Formal “Civics” classes are largely faded memories, yet knowledge and acceptance of our civic obligations to our “One Nation” must be re-energized at all levels of public and private education.

“Civic-mindedness” is the key, and from kindergarten through 12th grade graduation we must inculcate the responsibilities we have to each other and to society at large for living in a free, democratic America.

From common courtesy, to picking up litter, to individual self-sufficiency so as to lessen the public burden, to a strong knowledge of a functioning democratic government, to public service — all this needs to be banged into the heads of rising generations of Americans.

Indeed, President Obama was right when he said we aren’t black America and white America or red America or blue America. We must increasingly be One America, and we must understand that each of us owes certain responsibilities of civic-mindedness and proper civility to one another.

This enlightenment of civic-mindedness goes for the white Iowa farm kid as much as the struggling inner-city minority, to the privileged Hollywood director’s kid.

We owe it to America to live, act, and respect properly for one another’s best benefit.

Want a more united, peaceful, productive, respectful America? There’s at least two folks of differing political parties in this town that think it’s time to teach common public responsibilities at all educational levels.

And, while we’re at it, we might also think real hard about mandatory post educational conscription into service settings or military.

Learning of our common responsibilities together and serving together will bring us back in a new civil commitment together.

Gary Horton is a Santa Clarita resident. “Full Speed to Port!” appears Wednesdays in The Signal.



Most Popular Articles

There are no articles at this time.
Commenting not available.
Commenting is not available.


Powered By
Morris Technology
Please wait ...