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Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mass Burn

Jack Lynch

In conversations around town, you hear the admonitions against "getting involved in politics".

Many people avoid any involvement in political issues or public debate because it engenders the kind of belittling and abuse commonly tossed, much in the way apes shun and target members of their own with tossed feces, when some dare disagree passionately about issues.

On the several community forums around town, there are constant comments disparaging other's view, from the sarcastic and ironic, to the outright assault. There is an apparent belief in jumping on and circling the wagons as a means of ending debate.

A bit of that has been tossed towards the few steadfast local citizens who have challenged the community to think twice about so-called waste to energy – with a movement towards zero waste options. It often starts with questioning where you live – do you live in the county, do you live near the…take your pick, landfill, power line, school, river, municipality – and continues on down the road of name calling, activist (as if that were necessarily a bad thing), but intended to cement the outsider and troublemaker concept – all in service of discrediting the ideas presented rather than consider them, meet them with good answers, or react with the give and take that leads to a community compromise and progressive future vision.

Amid the many views and opinions about waste issues in Frederick County, Maryland, most of which have still only come out of that slim percentage of citizens most willing to be engaged and informed, there is a much larger mass of people who haven't gotten far beyond a couple buzzwords and much confusion, especially given the recent battles over county management of waste hauling services – which our legislative Delegation quashed with little concern or consequence, after all, 'that dog don't bite!' in their rarefied world of Annapolis.

And, quite possibly, the couple dozen of the best informed citizens contains the seeds of a radical change of view unlike few ever seen in any place in the country thus far – radical only in the failure of efforts and vision that maintain the status quo waste solutions, given the reluctance of government to believe in the very people that it asks to believe in its own imperfect deliberations – radical in great faith in a transformative communal process that supersedes the many experts and gladhanders and army of paid consultants on waste solutions.

These radicals, (remember a great political cartoon of the late sixties – hippies with peace signs and flowers, facing enraged military generals with guns, and the caption, 'Just who are the radical fringe?'), have begun to deliver the kind of mass burn among the public that leaves political leaders waiting for a path of least resistance, as well as a solution. A breather, and a second look at options, is exactly the overall community good that we can all hope to see from the ground troops of waste – be sure and thank the people who make these noises against the simplistic assumptions of waste – they're on our side, win or lose.

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