Walking Countre-4-80-12: The Case of the Ranting Mayor

The Fifteenth Meeting of the Mariposa UROSJ League, or MUROSJL, devoted to the capture, taming, and putting to work of the wild Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice, recorded this 2nd day of July, 2019. After this walk only three more until the project is complete, these being:
Clockre-1-140-13, scheduled for July 9th;
Countre-2-120-14, July 16th;
Clockre-3-100-15, July 23rd.

The MUROSJLists will then take a break, and this segment of the Leacock Anniversaries verbosity will graze in other pastures. Just which those are remains to be seen.

Today’s walk (or rather that part coming after the preliminary refreshments) began with a temper tantrum from our leader, Mayor Josie Smith. Normally when in public she does not allow herself the luxury. No matter how stupid may be the remarks of some self-interested or ill-informed councillor or member of the public, Mayor Josie invariably remains calm, respectful, and courteous. If she does rage, she does it privately, within earshot of only her husband, children, parents, and other close friends and relatives who know how to keep their mouths shut. The MUROSJLists are her friends, and qualify.

What set her off this time was the Canada Day story put out by the CBC, the one with the headline “Conflicted and worried: CBC News poll takes snapshot of Canadians ahead of fall election“. First she ranted about the absurdity of the whole notion that a survey based on a hugely biased sample of around one one-hundredth of one percent of the adult population can tell you anything at all about what Canadians on the whole think or feel. Not that there is any “Canadians on the whole”. There are Canadians in all their wonderful pluralistic diversity. To talk sense is to explore the diversity, not to make facile generalizations from bad data. “Conflicted and worried” indeed! How about “diverse and unsure what the future holds”? That would be perfectly normal. Nobody knows what the future holds, nor ever has. So, at least, believes Mayor Josie Smith, who knows her stuff when it comes to technicalities.

What really set her off was the reporter’s conclusion that “fully 88 per cent of those polled said they feel that politicians care more about staying in power than doing what’s right.

“What kind of thought-garbage is that?” she yelled. “What is this ‘staying in power’ garbage anyway? We don’t ‘stay in power’. We stay in office if we’re any good. We stay in jobs that absorb our complete lives and attention and that don’t pay very well. We stay so that we can go on serving people who need those services. We stay in order to make a difference without nearly enough power to do that easily. We stay around trying to find some way forward among all the conflicting opinions about what way that should be. We stay in the line of fire for endless shit and abuse. What do they mean that politicians don’t care about ‘doing what’s right’? We don’t care about anything else! Take any public issue, and just try asking what’s ‘right’ and see what you get. Politicians are the people the hire to sort all  that out, and too many of them think that the way to help is to make their lives miserable. If any employer treated his employees the way some of the public treat their politicians nobody would work for him. It’s not the power that keeps most of us coming back, it’s the opportunity for service. And those who come for the power soon find they don’t have very much, so they don’t come back.”

She was just getting nicely warmed up. “Do you remember that forum before the last election? Some fool got up and asked each candidate to say in one word whether they intended to ‘represent all the people of the city’. Everybody except me said ‘Yes’. What nonsense! Nobody can do that! I said I would do my best to find what’s best for the city amidst all the diversity of points of view. I was then reprimanded by the chairman for using more than one word. So I said ‘No!’ That was an honest answer, and it must have been the right one, if you look at my majority.

“We’re here to find an answer to the Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice. I don’t pretend to know what that answer is yet, although I’m beginning to get an idea what it might be. Whatever it turns out to be, I can tell you one thing for sure, that it’s going to require practical measures, or it’s just dreams and talk, and the practical measures will be the responsibility of politicians and the result of their hard work and dedication. We’ll need help from our staff and all the many people of good will whose hearts are in the cause. What we won’t need is a lot of damn-fool polls misinterpreted in damn-fool stories by damn-fool reporters.” ‘Power’ indeed! ‘Service and self-sacrifice’ is more like it. But it’s a great job, and I won’t apologize for liking it.”

“The Unsolved Riddle of Being Mayor,” said Sheldon, and we all lined up to give Josie a hug.

Practical measures, she said. Services. Regulations. Understanding. Balance. Compromises. Accommodations. Mid-ways. Both-Ands. Knowledge. Imagination. Compassion. Humour. Conversations. Dauntlessly, step-by-step, both one at a time and all together.

According to Isaiah Berlin, a prophet of Pluralism, an old guy named Archilochus once said that the fox knows many things but the hedgehog knows one big thing. Is the Unsolved Riddle of Social Justice a fox-hedgehog hybrid? Can such a creature circumvent the Yottapede? We don’t have hedgehogs in this country. We may have to make do with a fox-porcupine hybrid. Now there’s a vision!

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