Pol­i­tics con­tinue drag­ging us down

The Hazleton Standard-Speaker - - OPINION -

Edi­tor, News ed­i­tors from across the na­tion and around the world sent their best re­porters to gather facts, fig­ures and opin­ions from and about peo­ple whose be­hav­ior our cul­tural elites are ill equipped, by their STEMbased ed­u­ca­tions, to un­der­stand and in their frus­tra­tion call us de­plorable.

That is, in par­tic­u­lar, the over­whelm­ing, al­most-wor­ship­ful sup­port for Don­ald Trump and his prom­ise to “Make Amer­ica Great Again!” The truth of the mat­ter is that Amer­ica is great, but it isn’t great where In­ter­states 80 and 81 in­ter­sect, a place that time for­got and an­thro­pol­o­gists call the an­thracite cul­tural re­gion.

Scat­tered across this great na­tion are other failed so­ci­eties, where suf­fer­ing peo­ple lead un­happy, mean­ing­less lives of quiet des­per­a­tion. But I don’t live there, I live in a patch-town where old drunks and young drug­gies gather on bar stools and ar­gue about how Gen­eral Mo­tors wanted to build a plant, but the coal barons kept them out. Lo­cal opin­ion doesn’t ex­plain why Lan­caster County has one of our na­tion’s high­est qual­i­ties of life and Luzerne has one of the low­est.

Our story has many chap­ters and can best be un­der­stood through a study of the lib­eral arts; psy­chol­ogy and phi­los­o­phy, his­tory and an­thro­pol­ogy, lit­er­a­ture and art. Science teaches how life lives; the lib­eral arts teach us how to live a life.

You can take peo­ple out of the dark, but how do you take the dark out of the peo­ple? Our story be­gins dur­ing the Dark Ages that still live in the black hearts and dead souls of too many area peo­ple, es­pe­cially among our preda­tory po­lit­i­cal barons who suck the life force out of area peo­ple like vam­pires.

What the re­gion lacks most is prin­ci­pled, moral lead­er­ship; what Abra­ham Lin­coln called, “a govern­ment of the peo­ple.” What we have in­stead are lo­cal gov­ern­ments basked on the power prin­ci­ple, a form of po­lit­i­cal gang­ster­ism.

Ev­ery cul­tural has an ethos which is the un­writ­ten, un­spo­ken un­der­stand­ing of how things are done. One of the most re­cent ex­am­ples is the con­victed felon who got a job in Ha­zle­ton govern­ment.

The power re­sides in the “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” ethos. Take care of your own — and your own doesn’t mean us “John No’s” re­ferred to as “dirt­bags” and other in­sult­ing names by the po­lit­i­cal es­tab­lish­ment.

Another ex­am­ple is the mother on the school board whose son got a do-noth­ing, know-noth­ing job as as­sis­tant prin­ci­pal — a prac­tice that de­fines the school dis- trict. Among the dis­trict elit­ists, peo­ple out­side the clique are re­ferred to as “car­pet bag­gers” and class­room teach­ers are mocked as “fools” or “peas­ants.”

When I was a young teacher, I was told by one of my el­ders that “it takes seven years for a teacher to die.” I didn’t un­der­stand, but I’m not young any more, and I have this ad­vice. “If you’re not crazy for be­com­ing a teacher in the be­gin­ning you’ll be as nutty as a fruit cake in the end,” and I can tes­tify to that in both in­stances.

The most dis­gust­ing ex­am­ple is un­der the mantra of “mak­ing peo­ple safe” whereby lo­cal politi­cians con­spire with mem­bers of law en­force­ment and union lead­ers to stoke peo­ple’s fears and anx­i­eties for votes. They im­pose un­rea­son­ably long prison sen­tences for mi­nor non-vi­o­lent crimes, to cre­ate good-pay­ing jobs for po­lit­i­cally con­nected lo­cal vot­ers, and that’s im­mor­tal and crim­i­nally in­sane.

Trump promised to drain the Wash­ing­ton swamp, but for us the prob­lem is closer to home. A more de­tailed ex­pla­na­tion, as to why our re­gion is fail­ing, can be found in an ar­ti­cle, “The Cesspool Syn­drome: How dreck floats to the top of de­clin­ing or­ga­ni­za­tions.” It’s avail­able on the in­ter­net.

Joseph Woitko, Beaver Mead­ows

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