Confessions of a Future Politician: Part 21
Year 8, Week 9
I was selected as the chair. Ed retained membership, and Pamela retained Communications. Mustafa was the new treasurer. Pete promised to show him the ropes.
Riverbend Executive Committee
Lenore Crane, Northwest
Thelma Delgers, Northeast, Chair
Mustafa Ali, Central, Treasurer
Emmanuel Bovell, Southwest
Pamela Harris, Southeast, Communications
Ed Broncher, Northeast (2nd), Membership
Orville Kennedy, Southeast (2nd)
Not much for the executive committee to do, so we set up a couple of public meetings.
After that, I brought up my new idea.
“As you know, Riverbend has an abandoned creosote plant that is located in the Northeast, right next to the Battenor River. It smells bad and is sending bad chemicals into the soil, water, and air.”
Orville added, “I remember that plant as a boy. The men in my life called it progress. It employed about 20 workers. The owners just abandoned it — sometime around 1970. Because of unpaid property taxes, it now belongs to the Town of Riverbend. This land is so polluted the town can’t even give it away.”
Lenora Crane said, “The Town is looking for some funds from the state and federal government to clean it up. I think the recent engineering estimate is $3,000,000.”
Mustafa asked a good question: “So what should our TDG do about it?”
Ed said, “At some point, we need to move into societal affairs. The two questions are, one, ‘Is our TDG ready for this challenge?’ and two, ‘Is this project the right project for us?’”
So the first round of discussion was about our readiness. With our recent experience of successfully incorporating the mail-in ballot, we had the confidence that had the right culture to move into discussing controversial issues. We decided that if we were to move on this creosote plant issue, we should need unanimous approval from the executive committee.
Then we discussed the worthiness of this project. We thought many citizens of Riverbend would agree to this project with all three levels of government contributing to the expense. In that sense, this project was not that controversial. We then acknowledged that $3,000,000 spent on this project means $3,000,000 not being spent somewhere else. Should we be telling the state and federal governments what to do?
Lenora had a good thought, “I think we need to keep pressure on our politicians spending money on rightful things. Having one more rightful on their agenda gives them less reason to spend money on trivial things.”
I sensed we were coming to consensus: “I think we are taking the Riverbend in an important new direction. May I suggest that we postpone our decision, do some thinking until our next executive meeting?” And that is what we did.
It was my turn to ask Stacey about her values at our truckstop dinners.
“Well, I spent two years in dorm, but my dorm was no where near as wild as yours. We had a few players with occasional one-night stands, and we had a few steady couples releasing their libido. So there was some hanky-panky going on. Even today, I cannot see much peer pressure from my dormmates in regards to sex and alcohol. Everyone left everyone else to their own values.
“But I wanted out in my third year, so a fellow student and I rented an apartment. We got along well. We both found steady boyfriends, and we had a little fun. I really thought my fellow was marriage material, but after a year, we parted. My fourth year was celebate, and that’s the way it has been since.”
“Looking for anybody?”
“Kind of. About twice year, I take a week off to attend a youth conference hosted by the Unitarian Universalists. I’ve been talking to a certain fellow from the last convention.”
“The United Whatists?”
“Unitarian Universalists. It’s the religion of my parents — which I have recently fully embraced.”
“Is it Christian?”
“That depends on who you ask. In regards to the nature of Jesus, we have a different theology than nearly all other Christian denominations. To many of them, we are not Christian. And we also rely on other philosophical works for our guidance.”
“How has that guidance affected your life?”
My family are the only followers in Riverbend. Even Joosemin has no followers. The few times a year we travelled to conventions to meet with other Unitarians, always out of state. But each Sunday, my mother and father would have a short service before dinner. That’s how my two brothers and I learned the principles of the faith.
“So your religion has been around for a long time?”
“Depending on how you undertand history, we’ve been around since 1500. At that time, there were quite a few Christians movements coming from the Catholic Church. We are one of several.”
“But let’s get back to guidance.”
“We Unitarians have our own code of values. One of them is to be of service to our community. Hence my involvment in the Battenor Ecological Society. Another is justice. In the abolitionist days, many Unitarians were very active in the anti-slavery movement.
“And we are to not treat people outside our religion as inferior. So we associate with others.
“As a teen, I had little interest in the party lifestyle. So I was able to keep my head a little straighter than many American youth. This kept me out of life-changing trouble. I didn’t realize how my upbringing set up these values until my second year at college.
“And I was quite focused in college to get my degree. And I am very self-reliant. Now my priority is to get my students debts paid off. When that is done, I want to be of more service to my community.
“With my academic training, I now really understand how religion can be a social force to shape people’s lives for the better. When people change themselves for the better, the community changes for the better. All that comes from my Unitarian Universalist upbringing.”
“How has your faith affected our relationship?”
“Have not our conversations helped you better understand your past and your future?”
Just then, I decided I wanted to be more like Stacey. But maybe without so much religion.