The turkey and dressing leftovers may be gone but the time for thankfulness is not over. It’s a blessed day in Idaho when the sun sets westward and we draw comfort that it will rise again.
Such blessings are symbolized annually by the gathering of our elected representatives in the darkest months at our state’s capital. We are comforted that come spring, the trees will bud, grass will sprout, snowmelt will fill the rivers, fawns are born, but most blessed of all, the lawmaking will cease and our elected representatives can return home where they can do us no more harm.
Each season bears its tasks, and meaningful tasks deserve our thanks. Spring for planting, summer the weeding and watering, fall the harvest and winter for bearing up under the burdens of the long dark legislative session. What solution will some yahoo propose to make our children want to learn? He surely knows education best; he won an election! What fiasco will be proposed to make more water available, when most of our senior legislators have trouble making their own water pass? What tax scheme will come forward that enriches the rich and pulverizes the poor, but for sure shrinks government to suit the Idaho Freedom Foundation? We should not spend our winters under such a thankless burden. I suggest instead we pursue more meaningful winter tasks, like taking a long walk and giving thanks for the icy footing and chill wind in our face.
This particular season I give thanks that Idaho citizens had the initiative to tell their lawmakers what to do. We elect these people, but thankfully, sometimes we get to tell them when we think they are getting it wrong. A few years back we were able to signal clearly to the legislature that their Luna Laws were poppycock. The laws were hatched in secret by an arrogant Tom Luna, recently reelected Superintendent of Public Instruction, who made no mention of this idea just months before in his campaign. The legislature passed these education reform laws despite overwhelming public testimony in opposition. Well, the referendum to repeal the laws passed with a wide margin. Governor Otter took the hint and then set up a work group to make recommendations. When arrogance and hubris fail, I guess open and broad discussions around a difficult topic can provide direction. Lesson learned?
This year the electorate sent a clear message to our leaders too: expand Medicaid health insurance eligibility to the working poor in Idaho. This was in the face of many legislator’s strong opposition or more often, silence but definite inaction on the issue for the last 6 years. I am thankful we had the opportunity. I will be even more thankful when the legislature decides to listen.
For what is being thankful if it is not humility? None of us gets everything right all the time. Admitting to being wrong is not a show of weakness or ineptitude. And such an admission is no guarantee one won’t be wrong or inept once again. But not admitting to one’s mistakes, not reflecting humbly on past actions is arrogance. And arrogance is a guarantee for future mistakes.
I hear the legislature has expanded its “civility” training for this year. I hope somewhere in those lessons there might be some time for them to be humbly thankful for the opportunity they have to represent us in state government. It is very tempting, once one is anointed by 50.1% of the voters to think you have all the answers. Be thankful; be humble.