I have spent almost my entire life as a student of history. I was never one to be able to quote the latest batting average of a baseball player, nor was I proficient at expounding upon the minutia of details involving the hottest quarterback of the moment. I just could not find myself that excited about the supposed heroics of someone simply because he could run fast holding a leather ball. Our culture and society today have industrialized athletics. We tend to attribute to the players, an almost godlike legend, making them larger than life and granting them more skill than they truly possess. They are after all, just as ordinary as you and me. They simply have had access to all of the machinery that is put into place, in order to field a winning team. Our culture idolizes these individuals and places them upon a pedestal, but that individual occupies that pedestal alone. He or she rarely stands on the column with all of those individuals, who made the triumph a possibility. Likewise, in our celebration of and in our desire to honor great individuals from our nation’s past, we have unfortunately succeeded in accomplishing the same end. This is of course an unintended consequence. One that current circumstances in Albemarle County, indeed the entirety of the nation, demands an address.
When one stands before a monument immortalizing Washington, Jefferson, Madison or Monroe, or any other great leader from history, we are awed. We just cannot imagine nor grasp the greatness, bravery, foresightedness, etc., of those men. How wonderfully extraordinary they were. Isn’t it a shame that we can produce no more men such as these? We accept that, and move on to the next monument, read the brass sign, exclaim the same sentiment, and spend our sightseeing day, physically tired and spiritually wrung out. There is no way we can produce such extraordinary individuals today. That is the one grievous mistake from the manner in which history is imparted to us. Rather than inspire to go boldly forward, it leaves most somewhat depressed and downcast. We think that those folks are no more and will never be again. But this is a fallacious thought. Ronald Reagan intuitively understood that, and he was able to rejuvenate the sense of greatness that resides in each of us. When asked by an interviewer, prior to his first presidential victory, what did he think it was that American’s saw in him, he responded, “Would you laugh if I told you, they saw themselves?” Reagan knew that the same caliber of citizen still lived in these United States. The acts of nobility and will, from Patrick Henry calling for “liberty or death” to the bloodied and frozen men of Valley Forge, to the doughboys of WWI and the GI’s of WWII, were a part of American DNA. They were there; the people just had to rediscover them. The same is true of today. All of the aforementioned were not extraordinary individuals. There were not great men or women. There were only those ordinary individuals who were forced by extraordinary circumstances to do great things.
This is where Albemarle County is today. We stand as witness to the failed policies and ideology that have been purported to be the road to utopia. Instead, we have inherited the whirlwind of chaos and confusion. We see confessed sexual predators seated in power over us. We see others seated in positions of authority, callously and with abandon, take a blind eye and enable those of no character to remain in authority. Thereby raising the question as to their own agenda and ability to discern and exercise authority in a righteous manner. The great American melting pot has been ill served as of late. It is regrettable, but obvious, that the melting pot has been turned into a septic tank, and we see that the filter is full and needs cleaning. As much as all things political have been splashed with the waters from the cesspool, and as unpleasant and undesirable as it is, we need ordinary citizens now more than ever. We need those able and willing to roll up their pants legs and put on their waders. We need them to slip on the gloves and get their hands on the problem, and turn the septic system back into a flowing melting pot once again. You cannot, you must not be intimidated by your education, nor by the standards of some, the inadequacy of it. We have combined millions of years of education walking the streets, yet we still have an economic system in chaos and a corrupt political system. We see industry punished and sloth rewarded. We see our freedoms removed and our judicial system made mockery of. We see a confessed abuser of women smirk at us in the council chamber and known child abductors allowed to skip incarceration. We see a lot. So what is the solution?
As John Adams has stated, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” We see that exhibited in our everyday lives now. We see the results of a lack of morals and virtue. As C.S. Lewis wrote in The Abolition of Man: “We make men without chests and expect of them virtue and enterprise. We laugh at honor and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.” So what do we need to restore Albemarle County? To restore America? We need YOU! I do not care a bit about how many years of education you have. As I said before, we have a combined millions of years of education, and look at our mess. Why? Because we forgot that superior education breeds superior ambition. Superior ambition, unchecked by character and integrity, breeds corruption. I know not what others may think, but at the end of the day, I find that having a less educated yet honest person of integrity in rule over me, far more preferable to a well-educated rascal, any day. Give me a man or a woman who knows how to run a business, or who has had to stretch a checkbook week-to-week in order to meet the needs of family, over anyone who seemingly sits on Mt.Olympus and views these day-to-day survival marathons from afar. We need it now, right now, more than ever.
When we read history, we are reading the past. We fail to remember that the past we are examining, was their present. Washington, Adams, Jefferson, etc., were completely unaware of how things would turn out. And there were quite a few dark and foreboding days from which they had to emerge. They didn’t know, they couldn’t. We do, because we have the benefit of time. What we do know is, the nation and the freedoms we have today, would not have come to fruition, had they done nothing. Likewise, years from now, what will the history books scribe about us? What will the outcome be? Will individuals swallow their fear and their misgivings and step forward to lead us? Or will they be intimidated by the alleged intelligentsia of the day and cower in the corner? We need better candidates than we have seen fielded thus far. And I know that they are there, I’ve met them. None of them want the job; they ask if I think they’re crazy. To that I say bravo! I think the best qualifier is for the individual to not desire the position. Those who lust after it with such vigor, usually have bigger plans. We need someone who is simply doing the work that needs be done, right here, right now, in this moment. Each and every citizen of Albemarle County needs to look at himself in the mirror every morning, and contemplate more than how well his hair looks or if he missed a spot shaving. In your heart of hearts, soberly consider the following: “Could I do better, be better and make a better difference?” Chances are better than even, you will answer in the affirmative. Crazy notion? Maybe, but there have been far crazier notions done for far less honorable reasons. Is the septic tank full and stopped up? Does it stink? Is it filthy? Yes on all counts, but none of that can be effectively dealt with as long as you are standing on the edge looking in.
One individual cannot summon the future, but one can change the present. In every revolution, there are is at least one person with vision. In 1776, we had a group who held a shared vision. Surely, when the text books are opened to the history of this period, they will record individuals at the bottom Mr. Jefferson’s little mountain, who overcame the usual stereotypes and narratives of the day, and made a difference. What will it be? Shall we continue to hold our noses behind the ballot curtains and hope for the best, or will there appear someone with the courage to overcome the obstacles and step into the pit? You’ll be surprised at the support you’d get. To repeat the oft used question, that is never untimely, if not now, when? If not you, then who?