Two recent events displayed two distinctly different views of the world.
The first view was expressed by a group of Morris County residents who came to the county freeholder meeting bringing fear of conspiracies and windowless rooms where anonymous bureaucrats make decisions that will steal all their wealth and freedoms.
It’s a view that has been around in one form or another for centuries. Someone is always trying to take what “we” have. There is always a threat.
This is the small view of the world.
It was delivered by a group of average citizens who drove the vehicles of their choice along public roads to a public building, to freely express their opinions to an audience of elected and appointed officials and other citizens, who listened politely as the first group of citizens complained that all their freedoms were being taken away.
In the view expressed the other night, a newly issued draft New Jersey planning document is an extension of world domination on the part of the United Nations.
The state plan, one speaker said, would force them to use public transportation.
Another said proposed new laws to allow the state to purchase foreclosed homes would mean that “homeless people would be allowed to move into our neighborhoods.” It was a view that included storm troopers crashing into the foreclosed home to remove Dad and Mom, little Tammy and Timmy and their dog Jasper while the new owners, the homeless family, waits smirking on the lawn.
In this view, it is about the government helping people, who clearly don’t deserve the help, to “move on up,” one woman said.
And yes, for those of who remember the television show “The Jeffersons,” about a black family moving into an upscale white neighborhood, that was the theme song, “Movin’On Up.” Draw your own conclusion.
How dare the American government foster the hopes and dreams of families to think they could be like us. How un-American.
This is the post 9/11 world of shaken psyches, philosophies and sense of security. This is where some people go after watching the world economy collapse, but not just collapse, but taking down those at the top of the economic ladder, people like them; this is where some people go after watching New Orleans drown and then watching Denville, and Lincoln Park and Parsippany drown in another storm; where people go after the power was out for days and the roads weren’t plowed, where all the things that seemed to work, stopped working and all the government did was print money and create debt and reward cronies and none of them looked like me. This is where people go when the yapping noise rises and sense makes no sense. Where lovers go when hope and trust dissolve into suspicion that he’ll never get it right.
This is the darkness where the deep cynicism of the American suburban soul goes,
where hope goes to die.
Where we have crawled into the bunker, watching the door in fear.
It is a very small world.
The other world on display recently was seen at the annual gala for NewBridge Service, the successful nonprofit.
Two deserving people and a deserving bank were given awards for their service.
Laurie Becker, mental health administrator for Morris County, Yvonne Zuidema, president and chief executive officer of United Way of Passaic County, and TD Bank were cited for their leadership, imagination, hard work and caring for those with mental illnesses, addictions, the hungry and poor, veterans either injured or struggling to readjust after war, the elderly, lost kids, the friendless, the homeless, and for creating programs and structures that allow professionals across the region to find and help those in need.
It is elegant, necessary work.
It is a view of a big world.
Yes, it is a world with troubles, but it also a world with answers.
It is a world with hope.
But to the small worlders, it is a place populated by, as one woman put it, “liberal heart-throb people.”
You know, do-gooders. (Sniff, sniff.)
Do-gooders like Laurie Becker, who set up a task force of counselors who for years after the event were available to speak with people shaken by the 9/11 attacks, or Yvonne Zuidema, whose latest effort is to make sure senior citizens in her county have enough to eat, or TD Bank, which supports such efforts with funds and volunteers.
Do-gooders like doctors and nurses who rushed to Mennen Arena to help storm evacuees, like cops and firefighters and EMTs who camped out at local stations for days during last year’s storms, like dispatchers and emergency management and elected officials who did their level best to stay ahead of any disaster, like the government technicians who kept a faltering system alive despite frequent power outages so rescues could be made, help could be offered.
Like congregations who open their churches to the homeless, Girl Scouts who collect food for the food banks, Salvation Army bell ringers who stand in the cold next to their buckets, like politicians who act on the notion that using the taxes they collect to offer help and hope to those in need is the highest form of public service.
The small worlders are scared that everything is changing and falling apart; the big worlders are out there putting back together.
If they needed something to be truly scared about, consider this:
The end of days will not be when your taxes rise or your property values fall because the home that was foreclosed upon three years ago is still empty.
The end of days will arrive when there are no liberal heart-throb people to pick up the pieces.
That would be the day we as a society stopped caring.