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letters, opinions, editorials

The Signpost welcomes letters of opinion to encourage dialog in the community. Letters are subject to editing for length, clarity, libel, and other considerations.

“Down on the Ground: Marching and Dancing”

George Sibley

There was a peace rally in Gunnison mid-November, and I didn't really rally. I went to hear the speeches because some friends were speaking, and I saw a lot of people there that I like a lot. But I couldn't bring myself to join in the two-block march up and down Main Street, led by, contained by, a police car.

That reluctance goes back almost forty years to the early 1960s, when I was marching in the Reserve Officer Training Corps in college. My ROTC training first started me “thinking critically,” the way Americans are allegedly supposed to think—bumbling, personally evolved critical thought in reaction to the kind of thinking ROTC encouraged, which was so blatantly indoctrinational that it made me see how subtly indoctrinational most of the rest of my education had been.

But the marching drill every Thursday—that was almost seductive: drilling in tight formation, all dressed uniformly, each shouldering our identical antique M-1s, arranged by height to minimize our human differences, wheeling across campus with our feet all hitting the pavement together in a kind of four-four thunder—the marching was so seductive that, put together with the indoctrination in the classroom, it scared me. It induced in me a kind of mental claustrophobia, a fear not of small closed spaces but of small closed minds in large orderly numbers. And I know my own mind well enough to know how small and closed it gets, especially when I'm feeling so right about something that I become righteous.

But back to the Gunnison rally last month—I was bothered by the awareness that it was going to do nothing to close the cracks in an already fragmenting community, not just about peace versus war, but about practically everything. This local fragmentation is generally “peaceful,” in the sense that no factions are too aggressively in each other's faces; everyone seems generally tolerant of everyone else's follies since any other reaction would just be uncomfortable in the grocery store, church, bar. The organizers of peace rallies invite “everyone” to the rallies, in nice letters in the paper, just as “everyone” is invited to the annual Chamber of Commerce banquet. Some of us go to the one event; some go to the other event; and some of us try to hang with a broad array of these local factions, but either way it involves narrowing the thinking, harnessing the mind to fit the occasions, whatever they are; there aren't many of us together enough in ourselves to be “a man for all seasons”—or maybe “a mind for all reasons.” I'm not that together.

At a conference at the college this year, western historian Patricia Nelson Limerick suggested that what we need to make our places more sensible and whole is a commitment to “reconciliation”—not in the sense of “peace at any cost,” but in the sense of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, two old warrior opponents who, late in their lives, honestly tried to “explain ourselves to each other before we die” (and they both died on exactly the same day, the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, probably each trying to outlive the other).

There may be a time coming when Americans will again have to get in each other's faces somewhat, like in the 1960s or the 1770s. It may come time to march again without parade permits, with the police cars again trying to block the march rather than leading (or containing) it. I hope not, but when even the good gray New York Times carries an editorial titled “Wake up, America!” (Anthony Lewis, 11/30/2001), you know we're being pushed that way.

Meanwhile—back down on the ground in central Colorado, I think about reconciliation, and about the differences between marching and dancing.

I never really danced as a young man—I was one of the many for whom those high school mating rituals called dances were more like a form of marching. The girls danced together in a kind of display, then the guys marched out for a little groin-rubbing on the slow numbers. A guy who was out there really dancing was either drunk or different.

But after I stopped marching, after my eviction from the Army, and retreated to the mountains, I began to learn to dance. Not the kind of learned dancing where you take lessons to learn complicated steps, but the kind of dancing where you first learn how much you need to occasionally forget who you are, and you get out there with everyone else, under the spell of music, to learn to move with careful abandon (not cautious, just full of care), among people on whose feet you don't want to step because they are trying not to step on yours, yet everyone is in motion with everyone else, and it's all making sense without having to talk it through. It reminds me of lines from old T. S. Eliot: “From wrong to wrong the exasperated spirit/Proceeds, unless restored by that refining fire/Where you must move in measure, like a dancer.”

Reconciliation: those who march together don't have to explain themselves to anybody else, but to truly dance together, we do. Before we die.

This story was reprinted from Dragons in Paradise: On the Edge Between Civilization and Sanity, a collection of stories and poetry by George Sibley, published by Mountain Gazette Publishing, Frisco, Colorado. Copies of the book are available at www.mountaingazette.com.


    Beware, all ye businesses in Bernalillo and environs! You are getting gobbled by the West Side Grabbers!

—Ann Rustebakke
Owner, Chile Works, Inc., dba Chile Hill Emporium, Bernalillo

In mid-January 2005, a longtime California customer of mine called to have us ship him some red chile. At the end of the order, he said, “By the way, I lost your phone number and when I tried to get it from the phone company, they gave me an outfit with a similar name on a San Felipe Street (in Old Town, Albuquerque).”

This week, when I picked up my new telephone directories, I found out exactly why this had happened. Qwest in its infinite wisdom has removed many Bernalillo businesses from the Albuquerque And Vicinity white-page business listings and tucked us away in the little pint-sized Yellow Pages titled Dex Community Edition Rio Rancho, Albuquerque West Area.

The front of this book lists the places this “West” area covers. In addition to Bernalillo are Cochiti Lake, Isleta Pueblo, Los Lunas, Peńa Blanca, Mountainair, Tijeras, Tomé/Adelino, Placitas, etc. Very West, right?

Many of our local businesses, including mine, are no longer found in the Albuquerque metropolitan business section. (I have had the same business telephone number for more than twenty-five years and my business is within Bernalillo’s city limits.)

In addition, some Bernalillo businesses with multiple locations, like the Range Café, Pharmacy Plus, and the Bernalillo State Farm Insurance office, have been placed in the tiny “new” yellow-page book and removed from the Albuquerque Metro white pages. Many of the other addresses in the “new” Dex business West Side book are on Carlisle Boulevard, Central Avenue, etc., in Albuquerque. This is West, too?

Further, the maps included in this Rio Rancho West Side book show a part of Placitas and most of Corrales, but if you want to find government numbers for Sandoval County, you are referred to the book called Albuquerque Metro White Pages, where you used to be able to find us.

Interestingly enough, some of the large franchise-type businesses that are actually located in Rio Rancho and therefore should legitimately be listed Rio Rancho/West Side (Starbucks and Curves, for example) are listed in the Albuquerque “metropolitan” business directory white pages, but the newer locations in Bernalillo are only in this pint-sized Rio Rancho West book, and the Rio Rancho locations are not.

The product created and distributed by Qwest, which longtime loyal customers have paid for, is not only useless but damaging to our local businesses. The Town of Bernalillo is the county seat of Sandoval County. I am pleased to be located within its city limits. It appears that in its haste to stake a claim to future Rio Rancho/West Side business, Qwest is shortchanging the current residents and businesses at the expense of Bernalillo's economic vitality.

 

    re: 2005 legislative agenda from Kathy McCoy, State Representative, House District 22

I am writing to bring the opening of the 2005 Legislative session to your attention and to ask for your input on issues that will likely have an impact on your lives. You elected me to represent your interests and values, but to do that thoughtfully and appropriately I’ll need your participation.

The state budget is the priority during the session, and currently nearly half of it goes to K-12 education. Most would agree that New Mexico is not a wealthy state, and that requires using the resources we do have in a judicious manner. I believe that charter schools and vouchers hold great promise. New Mexico is only about $500 below the national average ($7,557) in per-student cost, but we are rated “F” in preparing our students for college. Is it any wonder we have such a difficult time drawing high-end business when we can’t seem to educate our workforce? Clearly, we have some work to do.

Because of expanded eligibility and benefits that often exceed the average commercial program, Medicaid is the fastest growing program in the state. It represents about 21% of our budget. One interesting proposal is a hybrid in which public, private, and government entities share the premiums. We must find a solution that balances our limited revenues with the responsibility to take care of our neediest residents.

Water-related issues will be on the table this year and that means vigorous clashes between competing interests. The combination of agricultural water rights and evaporation from the Elephant Butte reservoir represents about 85% of New Mexico’s water. That leaves little for everything else. Rather than forcing owners of water rights to pouring water on the ground to protect their water rights, we need to seriously consider mechanisms such as “water banking” so that we can guarantee water for potential business and residential concerns.

It makes sense, not only economically, but also environmentally.

Other proposed legislation that will undoubtedly surface will be DWI, voter ID, and yes, Virginia, the cockfighting bill will rise again. I will personally be sponsoring the Scooby Bill which will mandate a bittering agent in all anti-freeze sold in the state. The passage of this bill will not only protect our children and pets, but it will also put us near the top of a “good” list.

I will also be pushing—and strongly supporting—an effort to repeal the provision that removed the veto power from the unincorporated part of Bernalillo County. As you know, this is what allowed the city/county unification advocates to ignore our concerns—twice! At the very least, let them “sell” it to us on its merits rather than the fact that we have no voting power and could be disregarded. If the legislature passes this repeal, we will not have to go through yet another vote in two years.

In addition to my unincorporated part of Bernalillo County, I also represent a portion of Sandoval County—La Madera, San Pedro Creek, and Placitas. I’ve been extremely impressed by the Placitas residents who have committed huge amounts of time and energy to better their community. Their enthusiasm is contagious and I applaud their efforts. Edgewood represents my portion of Santa Fe County, which, thanks to forward-thinking leadership, is on its way to a viable and productive economy. Here too, I’ve met many people who care deeply about its future and are willing to walk the walk.

Finally, you can beg and plead, but I don’t intend to support any new tax increases. Simply put, we need to do a better job with the revenue we get, not tax more to cover deficiencies in our system.

I encourage you to come visit me at the Roundhouse (Office 201B), but if that’s not possible, my e-mail address is Katrina@swcp.com. My Santa Fe phone number is not yet available.

 

    re: the truth about Social Security

Two years ago, Secretary of State Colin Powell, stood before the United Nations, and the world, and proclaimed that the United States knows Saddam has weapons of mass destruction and we know where they are hidden. Condoleezza Rice, Powell's successor, warned the smoking gun might be a mushroom cloud! And throughout it all, President Bush reminded us at every opportunity that Saddam has weapons of mass destruction and we have to go to war to prevent him from using those weapons on our soil.

Last week, amid little fanfare, the White House called off the search for the WMDs, saying it had found none. Meanwhile, over 1,300 American soldiers have died and over ten thousand have been wounded. The country is in total chaos and the end of this war is nowhere in sight.

Today, the President has a new mantra, "The Social Security system is in crisis and unless we act now, it will go bankrupt!

Don't you believe it. If you do your homework, you'll discover that the system is doing quite well. And if we do nothing at all, Social Security will be just fine until 2040 (2050, if you listen to the Government Accounting Office). And with a few minor tweaks, you'll discover Social Security will be fine after 2050 and for a long time to come. If the current administration had not squandered the budget surplus left behind by the Clinton administration, Social Security would have been in good shape until the end of the century.

But don't take my word for it. And whatever you do, don't take the White House's word for it. Find out for yourself what the real motivation is for the mass destruction of Social Security. Search out the answers and get all the facts.

G. Wayne Priester
Ranchos de Placitas

 

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