Tag Archives: community


Did We Just Experience a 30 day Purge?

Several years ago Hollywood created, released, and marketed a film that suggested that a law abiding community could be obtained.  A utopia, if you will, could be created if the government would simply shut down for one day.  There was a catch, however.  In the time that there was no law enforcement, no rescue services, and no safe haven the community will be able to purge itself of all it’s anti-social desires and misdeeds.  This was a fictional account of what could happen.

With marginal results, the film warranted a sequel.  Last summer The Purge II opened in theaters nationwide.  Uncertain whether it was a marketing attempt or a hacker’s wet dream, the entire nation was put on alert that real-life “purges” were going to take place in urban cities like Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York City.  Heads of state scrambled to prevent panic as the danger might be perceived as eminent and debilitating.

As time would tell, there was no mass shut-down of social or emergency services.  There was no “24 hours of lawlessness,” but the months that followed unveiled a paradox of proportional injustice.  Instead of law abiding citizens turning on their government, government officials have idly watched as law enforcement officers have turned on the citizens they swore to protect.  There has been more media-amplified killings by members of the law enforcement community in the last 12 months than ever recorded.  Consequently, an uprising of citizens has provoked more fear and reaction from the cops.

The citizens who have not engaged in a righteous civil rights struggle since the assinations of JFK, MLK, and Malcolm X are learning how to successfully develop a meaningful call to action.  Contemporary leaders have exercised the gamut of rallies, riots, sit-ins, die-ins, boycotts, and social media civil rights campaigns.  To no avail, the problems have been exacerbated right up to and including the mass murders that kicked off the summer of 2015.  What started as call to remember their names has morphed into a hashtagging frenzy that brought about awareness but has done nothing to slow the threat of injustice.  Good cops have been put on the defense, mayors and governors have braced themselves for public backlash, and county prosecutors have changed their tone to condemn the over-zealous murders that take place at routine traffic stops.  Even the president (from the safety of Kenya) has recently condemned the injustices that women, minorities, and the disenfranchised have endured for too long!


The Constitution that all officials have sworn to uphold has been revisited and challenged since it was penned.  But the Supreme Court has made some rulings in the past year that have inspired ambitious politicians to base their campaigns on soundbites that either support the status quo or promise change through a new world order.  The ignorant, the wealthy, and the oppressors now have a common bond as their presidential candidates spout catch-phrases like: “Let’s return to the good-ol’ days’ or Let’s take America back!”

The citizens who were once considered the minority have become the majority, and the over-privileged panic to maintain their wealth.  Meanwhile an overlooked demographic has been embraced by the top presidential candidates…the ignorant and uneducated.  There aren’t enough wealthy voters to elect a president!  They are relying on the poor and hungry. As an aside, what better way to cultivate a nation of uninformed voters than to condemn the public schools?  A political strategist can see it’s the quickest way to prevent a large number of people from acquiring the skills needed to question authority.  The powerful are plowing seeds of ignorance, sprinkled with precipitation from countless thunderstorms, and reaped for November 2016 consumption.

The poor and hungry…

There are various ways to explain the condition of poverty:  poor in wealth, poor in spirit, and (and this case) poor in authority.  Hunger can be defined as hungry for nourishment, hungry for wealth, hungry for knowledge, hungry for religion, or (for purposes of this analysis) hungry for human rights.  The New Civil Rights movement will embody the poor and the the hungry.  Those who are neither poor nor hungry will resist.

Since the confederate flag came down, the nation’s eyes have been primed for a revolution.  The rationale for keeping a historic symbol of hate up so long was already understood and accepted for 150 years, but the articulation of these sentiments was just too much for our nation to bare.

Starbucks made a preemptive attempt months ago when it suggested we talk about race, but the market could not tolerate such a “controversial” topic.  The masses said, “No, it’s not the time…” as entire movements of “Black Lives Matter” and #ICantBreathe filled the airwaves, web paths, and store fronts.  August will mark the movie release of “Straight Outta Compton” which will certainly shine a spotlight on what becomes of young black youth who embrace their art to change the world.

The past 30 days have been a warning to the world.  We are a nation that was heralded for it’s democracy and liberties. Those who’ve sworn to uphold the Constitution are also the same individuals who apply THEIR discretion of its interpretation.  The Supreme Court is the third branch of our government, but another kind of supreme court exists at every traffic stop.  When our lawmakers do not create “just” laws and our law enforcers prioritize the laws based on their whims, the Supreme Court only gets the cases after it’s too late.  We the people..?


Vigilante “hacktivists” are now taking center stage.  The same technology that was designed to make our lives easier has allowed us all to fall victim to cyber-attacks, terrorist threats, and out-and-out fear for our well-being.  We are now witnessing authorities surrendering to the demands of terrorists, hackers, and the media.  The NAACP and the ACLU have revved up their efforts to put anti-police social media and iphone apps into the hands of potential victims everywhere.  Our liberties are being attacked and we are at a loss to defend them.  Question:  Who is the enemy?


Fairfield Fantasy

Imagine that the residents were offered an opportunity to have a township celebration at the municipal building and surrounding recreation fields. There could be refreshments and rides and music.  It would rival the Harvest Festival, but admission would be free.  Unlimited fun while children and adults engage in countless activities.  This event could be planned annually for the next ten years for no additional cost!  The only cost would be a one-time fee of $20 by each tax payer in the township. Wouldn’t that be great?

How about this instead?  Imagine planning for a community center for the entire township. With a game room, big screen televisions, and a dinning hall;  a recreation area for community events and staff to facilitate, we’d have an asset that would rival neighboring communities. Again all of this (with some creative planning and about a $20 contribution from each tax payer) could be ours. How cool would that be?    Alright!  One more idea–what if we could get a discount on an emergency vehicle that could supplement the emergency medical services for all of Fairfield Township. The vehicle could be paid for with grants, but mostly with the funds that could be raised from consenting taxpayers. It would cost a minimal $20 times all 4000 tax payers.

Now here are the requirements. We can only choose one of these delightful options. Either a 10 year festival that celebrates the residents of the township, or a community center for all of the residents, or an emergency medical vehicle that services the entire community.  Which would you choose?  The entire township would have to vote, and the winning selection would be acted upon immediately.  Every tax payer would be pledging the minimal one-time-only fee of $20.  Wouldn’t that be fantastic?

The Math

There are approximately 8000 residents in the township, but not all are tax payers. Excluding the children , the seniors, the renters, and the other family members that live in each household, there are about 4000 folks who are eligible to pay taxes. But that would be enough to meet these goals. If everyone made their mandatory contribution, the fund would amass a whopping $80,000!  Imagine that!  An annual celebration would cost about $8000 a year.  With proper planning and community development, a community center could be developed. Non-profit organizations right here in Cumberland County have done it for less! Emergency vehicles are expensive, but (again) with proper planning, research, and a lot of tenacity a vehicle could be purchased for nearly the same amount of money.  It wouldn’t be easy, but nothing worth having is ever easy. This doesn’t have to be a fantasy. This $20 we speak of is smaller than the additional $30 a year that we WILL be paying due to the most recent tax hike. That’s NOT a fantasy!   

Now imagine instead of getting one of these amazing projects, we had to give that entire sum to one person.  Would you be as excited?  Collectively, would we consent?  Perhaps if you had an explanation?  Imagine that the reason is because that individual claimed that he or she felt entitled because the system failed him or her.   All of those who already consented to the other project(s) have already made their mandatory contribution. No party!  No community center!  No rescue vehicle!  Instead a law suit must be settled. It’s sad but necessary. No refunds will be given.  No further explanation will be offered. How do you feel about that?

What if I told you that this is one of many reasons that residents loose interest in local government.  Is this the reason that so few residents vote?  Would our participation adversely impact the final outcome?  So often great plans crumble as a result of exchanging the wants for a community for the needs of a few.  This is the Fairfield Fantasy.  Or should it be called Fact or Fiction?  Either way the residents will get an F.   

the decision makers


Who makes the decisions?  We do, right?  We have systems that enable us to make decisions either by proxy or personally.  And yet we are a society that increasingly fails to take responsibility for our actions.  Even as you read this you may be thinking, “Not me!”  Yes you!

Me too.

In recent weeks I’ve been reminded to change my course of action by changing my demeanor.  “Take ownership!” “Follow your aspirations”, they say.  “Remain positive for positive energy.”  “Negative thoughts and criticisms lead to negative outcomes.”  They say.  They say.

How about what I say?  I am an educator.  What makes me good at my job is my ability to identify a deficiency and make a plan of action to reduce it.  I would not be good at my job if I did not seek improvement.  Therefore my approach may need to be refined (instead of distinguishing that fine line between being negative and being critical). I too must take responsibility.

As a matter of fact, my most notable trait is my incessant need to be self-critical.  I figure that if I reflect often, identifying my challenges will enable me to improve.  Not necessarily so, but it’s a theory.

Society on the other hand is not so reflective.  When things go wrong, we search beyond for blame.  “Not us?  Must be them?”

When I taught preschool, we used to play this game called “Who Stole the Cookie?” where children would sing along in a group to each other:  “Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?  Johnny (or the name of another student in the class) stole the cookie from the cookie jar!”  He would say, “Who me?”  And they’d say, “Yes you!”  He’d say, “Couldn’t be,” and they would respond, “then who?!?”   Johnny would call out the name of another student, and the class would say that student’s name.  The song would continue until every student’s name had been called.  Everyone sang along, and everyone eventually took the blame for the mysterious missing cookie.

Everyone took the blame?  Actually no.  No one took the blame.  In this early childhood example, a harmless game demonstrates where we are as a culture.  Everyone gets blamed for something at some point.  The innocent never accept the responsibility.  Why would they?  The guilty merely need to defer the blame to someone else.

Isn’t this precisely the reason that the justice system is not swift?  Amnesty is not justice.  Although prosecutors offer a reduced sentence for a guilty plea, the confident defendant knows that lack of proof requires no integrity. Read that sentence again.

Integrity.  What’s that?  So few people use it that it’s becoming a lost trait.  Outside the confines of a good home, we just don’t adhere to it much any more.  The schools teach it, and it eases the burdens of a classroom; but bad decisions (not “bad children”) are sent to the office less and less frequently. I’ve got an administrator that actually demands that we seek three alternate decisions before we refer ANY matter to him.  Imagine if the real world functioned that way.

Our students don’t take responsibility.  Their parents don’t take responsibility. The teachers don’t take responsibility. The administrators won’t.  The school board doesn’t. The voters who empowered the school board simply figured that the Board knows what they are doing (but they don’t).  As a matter of fact, most school boards are made up of non-educators who want to make a positive change in their community.  Business people, entrepreneurs, civic leaders in the making…

Parents usually direct their energy to the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO), but that lasts about as long as their child’s enrollment.  Who can blame them?  And how long does that responsibility last?

We elect officials to take responsibility for our community problems.  Who takes responsibility beyond an official’s term?  No one.  Is there ever a transfer of responsibility?  The problems do not cease to exist.  The problems don’t expire.  Like week-old milk, the problems that our communities face stink; and if consumed too late, the problem is exponentially larger.

Think about any problem our society is currently facing.  The rapid rate of home foreclosures; the rising costs of gasoline; the in-affordability of college; delinquency in it’s many forms, etc.  These problems are the direct result of problems for which no one took responsibility long ago.

Lack of insight verses failure to acknowledge the warnings.

Boom!  Status Quo.  And yet we still look for someone to blame.  Not us.  Them.  Even when we recognize that the problems that we face today are magnificent, failure to act equals a deferment of a solution.  We leave these dilemmas in the hands of a generation that can no better resolve a problem than it can acknowledge that it exists.   It’s as if THIS is all the kids will ever know, and “where’s the problem in that?”

The rest of us look back at another time when things were better.  Why didn’t we act when things began to get worse?