There are many lessons one learns from living on the planet for awhile, some mastered much later than others. Perhaps the most hard-earned and late-arriving insight is that there are no grand finales, no “happily ever afters,” if you will.
Fortunately, with the few exceptions of tragedies that might befall a family as the result of accident, crime or genocidal warfare, there are no Armageddons either. Very few things are decided so completely.
We live out our lives, it seems, planning for that perfect last day … indeed the day before … we die. Money, good health, enjoyment and fulfillment are all set to peak on the penultimate day of our existence, not realizing that the moment, the struggle—God, I hate to use this next word that has been so diluted by so many warm and fuzzy writers—the journey is over. Many of us live for the pot of gold, or heaven or the everlasting something that we think exists at the end of the rainbow.
I have a dear friend who is so concerned about her retirement, that she will be rich and ready, for what I don’t know, on her last day on earth. We paint our houses, get bigger ones and build careers. It’s all good, but we have to keep in mind that our individual lives are on a short track.
Meanwhile, many of the goals we pursue, indeed, the world outside ourselves is on a circular track, a merry-go-round. Sometimes it’s hard to separate the two.
I hope you will pardon the philosophical pitch this early in the week, but the above lesson has value, I think, when discussing the issues that have been at the forefront of New Rochelle politics for these last 30 years.
Those big buildings downtown have made the area nicer, arguably, even if they did not produce, at least not yet, the bustling commercial strip and tax bonanza that was hoped for.
Those against the buildings, including those angry with the tax abatements, may well prevail in future transactions, but the buildings will still be there. The redistricting debate now raging within the Queen City is also a continuum that goes back to at-large representation and the legal battles for the soul of District 3. It will go on long after we are gone.
The Democrats will tell you that the Republicans, even under the much beloved three-term mayor, Len Paduano, didn’t get much done. The Republicans will counter that he had a hostile council and a rogue city manager.
In any case, that was a generation ago. Families have come and gone, residents have died and been born and settled here or left. Wars have been fought, and for the first time we have been attacked in our own country.
We elected a gifted conservative former actor who gave his country back its pride, and a black liberal president, whose mediocre record, thus far, takes nothing away from the hope that his election symbolizes about this wonderful, if imperfect, country.
And to my point: America did not become an Ayn Rand paradise under Ronald Reagan, nor will it become a European social welfare state under Barack Obama.
As for New Rochelle, the Democrats will continue to pursue their vision of urban renewal, and the Republicans will push back. When the GOP finally gets a majority, they will take us down another path.
There will be no final solution, no ultimate vision, no perfect scenario. There will simply be tomorrow, if you are alive to share it.