Letter to the Editor - Hindsight

Over the last year or so, ever more groups of concerned citizens have assumed the role of Jiminy Cricket conscience for me. I see the stories and think, “Well, here’s another dedicated group of concerned citizens,” even though I can’t always see what they’re dedicated to and their tactics sometimes seem unconscionable.

Hindsight

Over the last year or so, ever more groups of concerned citizens have assumed the role of Jiminy Cricket conscience for me. I see the stories and think, “Well, here’s another dedicated group of concerned citizens,” even though I can’t always see what they’re dedicated to and their tactics sometimes seem unconscionable.

Tyranny of the majority happens whenever the public process appears to ignore the minority’s concerns. Inclusive public dialogue to discover minority perspectives can reveal widely divergent opinions, not a single majority one. Representative democracy dissatisfies all of the people some of the time.

Tyranny of the minority happens whenever someone unable to garner public support decides to make their opponents pay dearly for victory. Unsuccessful at building a coalition to influence the public process, they raise private money to create roadblocks, scouring the statutes to entangle the bureaucracy in its own red tape, hopeful that the resulting bother will force capitulation. These shenanigans get expensive for the majority, which has little recourse but to defend against these bushwhacks or relent to the preferences of a few.

I’m concerned whenever the actions of a small group forces diversion of public money. I’m equally concerned when a public official’s actions conflict with my aspirations. Gratefully, most of Walla Walla’s concerned citizens resolve their concerns through dialogue—gaining friends to influence people—though anyone is free to threaten our already inadequate public coffers.

Only lawyers thrive on the fact that anyone can challenge but no one can fix the past, no matter how much treasure another might be forced to forfeit. Perfect hindsight is no replacement for wise foresight. And wise foresight is hard.

We’re all poking sticks into darkness as we probe together into our future. None of us can credibly claim superior visual acuity for what we will find there. What we choose to do when we find different from what we wanted determines how our future reveals itself.

No one finds common ground when small groups of concerned, disenfranchised-feeling wallas attack the ones they’ve cast as BIG, UNCONCERNED, DISENFRANCHISING WALLAS. Shouldn’t we be talking together as if we had a future together instead of asking judges to second-guess every step?

Good future vision requires that we conscientiously acknowledge peering forward through imperfect lenses, not rear-view polarizing ones.


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