Sen. Lisa Murkowksi’s Homer visit managed to pack in a lot of action: a radio talk show answering callers’ questions, a visit to the Seldovia Village Tribe’s new clinic, a talk at the high school, a talk at the local soil conservation office and a filled-to-capacity crowd at the Homer Chamber of Commerce luncheon. No one can doubt Murkowski’s stamina. The number of Homer people she met that day could easily reach 1,000.
Murkowski’s messages echoed of warnings to come that it would be best to heed. Alaskans may seem like a coddled lot who are ignorant of their dependence on state and federal funding, shielded from the most brutal aspects by the benevolent officials we elect. Our politicians don’t always let us retain that ignorance.
Murkowski, while coming across as rather fond of her Homer constituents, seemed to want to “hammer the message home,” so to speak. Increasingly, we will be shown the connections in painful job and grant losses to come. Murkowski’s tough depiction of the dire situation is a truthful rendering of trouble on the war front, on the economic front, on the health front and on the political front.
In other words, we’re in big trouble.
Human capacity to turn away or close our eyes or cover our ears has shown itself over and over historically in the face of gargantuan bad news: it took a decade to come to terms with Nazi atrocities during World War II. On the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we may not fully grasp the truths there for another long swath of time. The truth of climate change may have escaped us for a while, but after a winter of heavy snow that, too, makes a dent.
No doubt this is a defense mechanism to avoid having our hearts or sanity broken over and again by events over which we lack individual control.
Federal deficits exploding ever larger aren’t something we can do much about, even if we cut back here or there or shout out encouragement to elected officials to keep working on it. We can’t impact the federal deficit by screaming at those same elected officials either, or by calling anyone names, though certain choice options may seem right in the face of frustration. Nor can we impact the war effort, try as many Americans have to balance their support for soldiers with their dismay over the continued waste and carnage.
But, if there is one thing we in Homer can take away with us from Murkowski’s visit, it is the encouragement she gives us to handle the matters we can take into our own hands. Local projects to ensure broader food sources created, grown or raised right here is one way. Insulating this community from the variations of an unstable economy by hiring and buying local is another.
The senator’s praise for Homer seemed genuine: “There are towns that I visit that make me feel good because the communities are healthy, energetic, enterprising communities. You should be proud that Homer falls into that category,”she said.
In other words, Homer is in the process of building strong fundamental systems to see us through. That may well help the senator sleep better at night, that some of her constituents are at serious work on solutions.
Perhaps we should step up our own efforts by implementing more ways to be truly independent of the larger, national economy
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