On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, is it safe? Expediency asks the question, is it politic? Vanity asks the question, is it popular?
But conscience asks the question, is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but he must take it because conscience tells him it is right. --Martin Luther King, Jr.
As we commemorate the forty-third anniversary of the death of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Jan. 15, 1929 - April 4, 1968), I thought that it might be a good idea to have a thoughtful examination of how we might want to respond to the future of our wonderful city amidst the tumult of the past several weeks.
I have been reflecting on what Plainfield residents have expressed to me, via email and in conversation, about how we, as a city, can come together to do what is in the best interest of us all. I have sat on the council alongside my colleagues for three months now, listening to your concerns and suggestions, offering my input, and voting as my conscience tells me.
It is not easy to sit and hear epithets, accusations, suspicions, and personal attacks being tossed about--especially, at the last council meeting, in the presence of our young people--what must they think of those who claim to have their best interests at heart and yet cannot seem to carry out a civil discourse with those with whom they disagree? The degree of acrimony has been quite troubling, and that it seems to continually be encouraged by those with a self-interested agenda makes it even more unconscionable.
The role of the legislative body, as I view it, is to serve as part of the checks and balances of our local government--not to defend entities, enable favoritism, protect nepotistic hires, or turn a blind eye to mediocrity, incompetence, and ineffectiveness. We have a very difficult year ahead of us, and we cannot allow our residents to suffer with ever-higher taxes, wasteful spending, willful mismanagement, and declining municipal services. We must think about how our actions, votes, and public statements either maintain the status quo (which clearly isn't working), or how they may be able to help us take a giant leap forward as a city.
A little over a year ago, I reprinted a portion of a speech delivered by Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., two months before he was assassinated--the original context was his opposition to the undeclared war in Vietnam. Given the tenor and tone of the current public discourse in our city, I thought it would be good to consider Dr. King's words once again.
Click below for the link to the whole speech: