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  • Last modified 22 days ago (May 23, 2024)

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When reason takes a holiday

Forget the massive divides that separate America. They’re specks compared to the motes in Marion County’s eyes.

What are reasonable people to make of this week’s news?

Goessel — yes, peaceful little Goessel — seems completely polarized. Is it one generation against another? Those in power vs. those formerly in power? Or, as one observer speculated, one congregation against another?

In Marion, the mayor comes out foursquare in favor of openness, wanting to talk about what departments actually need before they know how much money they might have available to spend.

Then the same mayor defends meeting with an oligarchy of self-styled city boosters to establish a private agenda without inviting others to comment.

More than half a year after the tragic death of our county treasurer, her successor is only now discovering that one of the most fundamental jobs in the office went undone for six of the last seven quarters.

Sympathy for suddenly being burdened with responsibilities not well explained is understandable. But it’s also questionable why only one person in any government office should know what the office’s fundamental duties are — particularly when many assistants and deputies keep getting raises.

It’s been a year since voters seemed to protest how hospital directors are elected in Marion. The desire not to resort to a quick fix is understandable, but so too is the frustration that a year has gone by without any action to make the tax-levying district more responsible to taxpayers.

Lake residents have a point about their roads being platted, accepted, and occasionally maintained, and they have a right to expect that they be treated as something more than alleys. But the county has more than enough road problems on its agenda and continues to fend off lake issues that might best be dealt with by incorporating the lake into its own city or annexing it to Marion.

Blue-green algae have floated back into the headlines, but solutions to the economic threat they pose to Marion County tourism remain unfathomably submerged.

Meanwhile, Marion yet again can’t seem to come up with its own Memorial Day celebration, relying on Florence’s veterans to serve not only Florence and Cedar Point but Marion as well.

Workers — especially those on the government payroll — have become so spoiled by a wealth of paid holidays that they no longer do what holidays were created to encourage — spending a day of reflection or celebration about the issues at hand.

If someone truly were to spend Presidents Day honoring presidents, Juneteenth honoring the belated emancipation of slaves, Martin Luther King Jr. Day contemplating non-violence, Labor Day honoring the role unions played in improving workplaces and the like, the holidays accomplish their goals.

But if they’re just a day off to goof off or do something completely unrelated to their purpose, it’s time we as a society consider giving them back — or, at minimum, requiring some sort of demonstrable honoring of their spirit before paying for the time off they provide.

It’s not the law. But it’s right. And society would be a lot better off if, instead of looking for loopholes to decide what we can and can’t do, we were guided by the principle of simply doing what’s right.

Except for rare sociopaths, all of us know what’s right and what’s wrong. Whether that sense is genetic, spiritual, or trained, we all have a little voice in our heads telling us what we should do — not just what we can get away with doing.

Many people pray on Memorial Day. For those who believe, maybe it’s time to stop talking in our prayers and start listening to whatever the voice of right and wrong in our heads happens to say.

We’d become a lot less likely to cut off a driver just because we can, fail to mention how we broke something while visiting, welsh on our debts, or exaggerate our gossiping and bullying on venues like social media.

This Memorial Day, let’s honor the apparent passing of our sense of right and wrong and urge that it come back before it’s too late.

— ERIC MEYER

Last modified May 23, 2024

 

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