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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

And the Band Played On


Last night the evening news ran a story about the possible demise of the airline industry. Fuel prices and weak economic conditions, they said, might cause two hundred cities to lose access to commercial airlines. The cost of the remaining air travel options might be so expensive that regular air travel by families for vacations and quick visits to distant cities might put such travel out of reach for all but the wealthy. As a former frequent flyer, this story left me feeling pretty sad.

After the news went off we went downtown to the courthouse square to take in a concert by our Glasgow Community Band. Walking down South Green Street toward the square, I couldn’t help but notice the infrastructure; the technology that makes Glasgow a community. There are the streets, sidewalks, utilities, fire trucks, police cars, ambulances, and many other technological wonders that we purchase for ourselves. These are the infrastructure items that we all count on and accumulate in a passive manner. That is to say, we pay for them with our taxes and utility bills, but are not generally personally involved in.

Those are nice, but the really wonderful elements of our infrastructure are the ones people provide from their inherent pride, generosity, talent, and commitment to improving the community without any direct benefit to themselves. Those include well maintained and renovated homes, lawns, and landscaping. Of course, the biggest item that was on display last night was the Community Band. That is Glasgow infrastructure as well, and it exists only because a handful of locals care enough about the rest of us to commit the time and energy necessary to allow their individual efforts to combine with those of others to produce beautiful music. Fire engines and utility lines are nice and useful, but anyone with enough money can buy them and all communities have them. Our Community Band is not something other towns have. It is special. It comes from that underlying current of civility and community that cannot be established with tax dollars. It is a special bit of technology that we are all so lucky to have.

Last night hundreds of locals sat on our own lawn, under a crystal blue sky, in front of the City Hall that we bought and paid for, and were entertained by a group of our fellow citizens simply because they could. Children giggled and waved blades of grass in unison with Bill Brogan as he waved his conductor’s baton. Friends and neighbors shared all of this with each other during an evening so perfect that you were expecting to wake up and find that you were dreaming. We all enjoyed the kind of evening that so many folks load themselves up into airplanes and travel great distances, at even greater expense, in the hope of experiencing. Many of the attendees did that just by walking down the street. We discovered vacation level happiness on a Tuesday night right here in Glasgow.

On the way back home I started thinking again about the evening news and the demise of the airline industry and the fact that more folks are going to need to find their entertainment at home. I pondered this as we walked back up South Green Street. I pondered the demise of cheap air travel and I finally said . . . who cares.

1 comments:

Icekrystal said...

As a surviving single parent, I have always believed that it is the simple things in life that make the biggest difference in our world. I have longed for the hands of time to tick backwards and take us all back to the times when neighbors held block parties, and folks sat on their porches and waved to you when you passed by. Although technology is wonderful and quite useful (such as the use of the internet) it should not be the ultimate answers to our problems. The answers can be found pages back in history, when people respected each other, cared for each other, and had a genuine pride for their community. The simple things, such as growing a garden, watching a little league baseball game, going fishing, spending time with friends and neighbors, etc...not to mention the sunrise and sunset...all things we take for granted that if we just stop long enough to re-notice them, we will find a greater peace and security in these troubled times. If the planes stop flying...if we don't have gas for our cars....we still have our community and neighbors and friends and family; and really, isn't THAT what life is all about?