MARCANO: No resolutions for 2022, just engagement

Ray Marcano

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Ray Marcano

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Spotsylvania County School Board meeting attendees begin to regroup before public comments at Chancellor High School in Spotsylvania County, Va. on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021. The Virginia school board rescinded a directive for staff to pull books with “sexually explicit” books from libraries early Tuesday after hours of passionate public comment. (Peter Cihelka/The Free Lance-Star via AP)

Credit: Peter Cihelka

Spotsylvania County School Board meeting attendees begin to regroup before public comments at Chancellor High School in Spotsylvania County, Va. on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021. The Virginia school board rescinded a directive for staff to pull books with “sexually explicit” books from libraries early Tuesday after hours of passionate public comment. (Peter Cihelka/The Free Lance-Star via AP)

Credit: Peter Cihelka

caption arrowCaption
Spotsylvania County School Board meeting attendees begin to regroup before public comments at Chancellor High School in Spotsylvania County, Va. on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021. The Virginia school board rescinded a directive for staff to pull books with “sexually explicit” books from libraries early Tuesday after hours of passionate public comment. (Peter Cihelka/The Free Lance-Star via AP)

Credit: Peter Cihelka

Credit: Peter Cihelka

The holidays are now over and we’ve turned to getting to the gym to shed a few pounds and making New Year’s Resolutions.

I’m not doing the Resolutions thing, but I’m going to do something a little different. In 2022, these are the topics I hope to focus on, and along the way, I hope to have your help.

Local school boards: I think this is the single most important issue facing our children and communities. There’s so much strife that I fear educating students has taken a back seat to politics, and our new state school board president says she worries about that. Politics has no place in local school boards. It’s important we call out those who believe ideology supersedes the best education for all of our students.

Race: This issue has taken a scary turn as certain segments of our society seek to obscure our past and ignore how it affects the present. You wouldn’t know if from the rhetoric, but poll after poll shows this is an area in which Republicans and Democrats agree — we need an accurate telling of history and honest debate that fosters equality. It’s important to remind people of that.

Local government: Losing local newspapers means local governments aren’t nearly as accountable as they used to be. I know local municipalities that don’t post council agendas or minutes on their website and provide incomplete recaps or flat out conceal what happens at meetings. That has the effect of hiding (even if it’s innocent) official actions from citizens and pretending issues aren’t as bad as they seem. We can’t have that.

The Egotistical Authoritarian: We all know politicians of both parties think election first and constituents second. But these people are worse. They are elected officials who push positions that advance their personal interests even when the populace at large disagrees. Since they only listen to their base they ignore the greater good, which means they ignore most of us. This is why they become …

Dodgers: Not the baseball team, but people who duck and dodge difficult questions and refuse to justify the positions they take. Appearing before friendly crowds and issuing press releases does not pass as accountability. I can’t tell you the number of people from both parties who have refused to return calls or emails because I’m assuming, they don’t like to be challenged. We are not (not yet, anyway) an authoritarian society, and these elected officials are acting like autocrats. It’s so much easier to get on Facebook and listen to your fans than defend, in some cases, an indefensible position.

Silos. Our siloed existence means we are a step below the egotistical authoritarian. We tend to only socialize and listen to people who think, look and act like us. That sets up silos in which group A is right and righteous and groups B through Z are dumb and dumber. Social media ensures we’ll never solve that problem, but we need to take baby steps on a path of finding a solution.

Our communities: We are, by in large, decent, caring, loving people. Through the constant drumbeat of bad, I try to remember there is so much more that is good. Please help me remember that as I try to bring you those stories.

Community conversations: I’m trying to figure out a way to foster community conversations on difficult issues people are talking about, especially with people who don’t agree with me. What is freedom? Why do we have such a difficult time with race? I tried this one time on social media but shut it down because a few hijacked the conversation to advance their position. I think I’ve learned from that.

You: I want to hear from you — more. I do get a steady stream of emails from people who think I’m observant and others who wish I’d never type another word. I respond to them all because I want to hear different perspectives. I also want to hear what’s important to you and your community.

The news will often dictate what I write about, but I find all of these themes important. This isn’t an exhaustive list but a good start. These columns will be so much better with input from you.

Ray Marcano is a longtime journalist whose columns appear every Sunday on these pages. He can be reached at raymarcanoddn@gmail.com.

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