I Love This Town

All politics is local.

A friend of mine tagged me on Facebook last night in an interesting thread. He had announced he was considering a run for city council. He said this:

“Looking to run against those that don’t see Redding as an opportunity. City Council first.”

Folks in the thread were encouraging of him, and he kindly responded to each in turn. The announcement happened earlier in the day and the tag for me was later in the evening. It said this:

“Tom Cummings”

That was it. Just a single line. Two words, to draw my attention. I asked him about it today and he told me he just wanted to hear what I thought about the idea. He’s not the kind of guy to waste words so he didn’t overly explain himself, he simply said that. He wanted to know what I thought.

I stumbled through a few words with him, telling him I thought it was a good idea. I asked him what he hoped to accomplish and I asked him, because I don’t know, what a city council does. We got sidetracked so he didn’t say. “All politics is local,” I eventually said, quoting some old phrase I’d heard.

I never got to say what I really wanted to say. I’m not even sure what it would have been.

Can we change the world?

The city of Redding is a terrible place. At least that’s what I’m told time and time again. In fact, as I told my friend today, I’ve heard that from several people just this week. I found myself saying, on each occasion, “I love this town.”

Each time I said it I was surprised. Is that true? Do I love this town?

I do.

There might be some people reading this today that think it isn’t possible. We have a homeless problem, some will say. We’re too conservative, others might argue. Too stifling to education. To growth. But I love this town. And I love California.

Redding has the weather I love. The summers. The winters. And it has the friendliest people I’ve ever met in my life. I’ve said it before, if I could go anywhere in the world at any time I’d go into my backyard in the summer. I love this town.

“What can I do to help?” I asked my friend.

I probably don’t ask that question enough.

But what about this town?

I tend to focus on the big picture. I know how to improve the nation. We need universal health care, quality affordable education, and stronger, more sensible gun laws. We need a plan to mitigate the damage of climate change. We need a progressive agenda in the United States. I’m on board with these things.

But locally, I’m stymied. Without national policies to correct economic inequality and to educate the masses, how can I make a difference? How do I help Redding become a better town?

I want to reach out to my friend and tell him I have good ideas for the city that I love. He reached out to me, and I am humbled by that. But as of today, I don’t know. I’m a smart and reasonable and learned man, but I really don’t know. At least not yet.

But I intend to be here, in this town, for a very long time. Probably the rest of my life. I help to run a local business here, and I intend to own that business someday. I intend to feel the Redding sun on my face for many years to come.

Just Tom.

I can’t affect things on the national stage. I am not Beto O’Rourke or Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez. I’m just Tom.

Just Tom.

But the fact that a friend of mine, who is seeking to make a change – seeking to improve the community he has adopted as his own – reached out to me … well, that changed me a little inside. It taught me.

I can make a difference.

Maybe a small one. Maybe I can help a friend make a decision. Or help a city improve. Maybe I can be a leader, too.

I ran a very small business some years back, and a cousin of mine would come out and help me run it on days when I ran behind. He used to tell me all the time that I missed my calling. That I should have been in politics.

Maybe.

Deliberation.

I’m a slow learner. Not out of stubbornness but out of deliberation. I tend to think about things for a long time, try to see all sides of a situation, before I commit to a conclusion. That certainly doesn’t sound like modern politics to me. We go for the gut check in America. We shoot first and ask questions later. If ever.

I’m going to wind down. I’m going to go watch a TV program, maybe a movie, eat some Mexican food and sit with my wife and our golden boys. I’m going to let today sink in. I’m going to deliberate. And then whatever my friend needs I’m going to do. I haven’t decided that I know how to make Redding a better place, but I have decided that I want to try.

Redding is an opportunity. California is a great state. America can lead the world. The end is not near.

In point of fact, this is just the beginning. Please. Stay tuned.

 

34 thoughts on “I Love This Town

  1. I’ll be waiting for the updates. And you’ve reminded me of something. Sometimes when I criticize the place where I live people ask, “Why don’t you move somewhere else?”
    Because this is my home. I can find fault with my home and still not want to live somewhere else.
    In fact I think the more you love a place the more inclined you are to want to make it better.
    Also a politician who doesn’t waste words would be a welcome relief.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That reminded me of when my brother told me there are “other countries” because I criticized mine. I said, there are, many of them better and many of them worse. Shouldn’t we strive to make this one more like the better ones, since we’re here?

      Like

  2. I agree with you but my take is it’s difficult, while we both have similar goals in the big picture, I am a progressive and see a nice future if we as a country can make some serious changes. On the local level it’s harder, for example there is a homeless crisis in LA! But any mention about what to do and I hear people saying yes let’s put them somewhere, but not in my community. The drugs and violence isn’t welcome, and I get that! But until we can get past that question how do we make changes that will truly help? I hope you decide to run, because I would support you!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Joe, it is SO difficult. So difficult I’ve never considered it before. It’s easier, I suppose, to point to the larger framework, focus on its flaws, and settle for changing nothing because it’s impossible. Maybe it is. I have a friend who soaks up more deep knowledge on the ways of the world than anybody I’ve ever met and I always ask him “so what do we do about it?” He always says “nothing, it’s too far gone.”

      I won’t accept that answer. Others don’t. Armageddon may come either way, but do I want to sit and watch and wait or find a way to use what I have to help?

      Really, that’s a question I’m asking. Myself most of all.

      Like

  3. Changing the government is daunting. But! Becoming an involved citizen should be a priority for every member of the community. My parents ran their own business. The likeability and growth of the city we lived in was a priority. My dad was Mayor for 8 (or was it twelve?) years and still belongs to the Lion’s Club. My mom was on the local and state school boards for about 18 years.) You want to like/love where you live. Get involved on the local level. I’m anxious to see what comes next, Tom.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow! The Mayor! That’s good of both your parents. Just awesome.

      I’ve honestly never felt the call the serve, Kim. I wish I had a good excuse why, but probably I was just too young, just too selfish. I really admire the youth that get involved for altruistic reasons.

      I don’t know if there’s a straight line from where I am, and where I’ve been, to service. But my friend has me thinking about how I can help. That’s a start, eh?

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Tom, this is incredibly exciting, even the thought of it. I am going to get all the opposite of political here….but….it sounds to me like it all begins with love! You love Redding and California and you are already helping to create change, by starting conversations, spreading hope and educating, through your writing. Why not take the next step!!!!!!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Your friend is wise to ask you Tom! In fact, I wish there were more people like you to ask when making important decisions, people who love, deliberate and listen, these qualities are more precious than gold. Who cares to fool the ignorant masses, steer the hysteria of the crowd, becoming inflated with some delusion of power when you can have the thoughts of one honest, loving friend?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Unfortunately, in politics, there sure seems to be more of the former than the latter…fooling the ignorant masses is big business in the states! 😡 I guess all I can do is try to spread some truth and stand some ground here and there and see if it catches on. Thank you for your thoughts and the wonderful compliment, MP!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, 5yais! Yes, I do remain optimistic that humanity is indeed, still, heading in the right direction. Very hard to see that forest from all the densely-packed trees we see everyday (in the news, from peers, etc.). Nonetheless, I persist. 😉

      Where are you writing from “over the seas”?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m from Croatia, greetings 🙂
        My thoughts on humanity seem to vary from optimism to pessimism on a daily basis, usually depending on whether I watch the news or not. But I heard that optimists live longer.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ha! Well, to be frank, I think I do, too. There are times – maybe not daily, but with some frequency – that I think about the hopelessness of it all. But I bounce back fairly quick.

        I like the way you think, new friend. Gonna check out your stuff!

        Liked by 1 person

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