Friday, November 12, 2004
It's time to move on
It's Tuesday, November 9, as I sit down to write this week's editorial. Exactly one week ago, I was working at the Carlisle polls when 90% of the town's registered voters turned out to vote in the 2004 Election.
I have to be honest: nationally, my man didn't win. George Bush beat John Kerry in a well-fought, fiercely-felt election. Since reading the final election results in the Wednesday morning newspapers, I have been depressed and discouraged. No longer do I turn on the radio to catch the early morning news. The mad dash to the newspaper box at 6 a.m. has slowed down to a crawl. Last Friday night, my enthusiasm for watching TV's bevy of week-in-review news programs was nil.
Today, just a few moments ago, the phone rang. On the line from Minneapolis was my childhood friend from my neighborhood in Madison, Wisconsin. What did I think, she asked, referring to the election? We chatted for a while. We found we were in a similar situation. Most of our relatives, her brothers, my sister and our cousins, had voted for the opposite candidate. It was good to talk to her. It gave us both an opportunity to commiserate.
But now it's time to move on. Things aren't so bad. The Red Sox beat the New York Yankees in the American League finals and then went on to win the World Series in a clean sweep against the St. Louis Cardinals. How many of us were joyously following that series on radio and television, not to mention the lucky few who obtained tickets to one of the two games at Fenway Park? Many Carlisle families made their way into Boston on Saturday, October 30, to help celebrate the team's victory as the Red Sox parade passed through city streets and onto the Charles River.
Then there was Halloween on Sunday night the 31st. The weather couldn't have been better: temperature in the 60s; no need for overcoats to cover up those imaginative and scary costumes as the goblins and ghosts circulated around town.
Focusing more on what has been going on in Carlisle, one can't help but recognize the hard work and progress that the Benfield Task Force has made towards the development of 19 acres of land for affordable housing and an athletic field off South Street. The construction of the 200-foot boardwalk and 130-foot bridge on the River Trail in Great Meadows National Wildlife Refuge by the Carlisle Trails Committee is another success story. With help from a group of hearty volunteers who put in more than 360 hours over two weekends, there is now access to an area of natural beauty, previously inaccessible to the community.
Yes, I'm beginning to feel better already. I know I'm lucky to be living in Carlisle, in fact I'm lucky to be living in the United States. Let's just hope things will get better for those less fortunate living in this country and around the world.
Angels and Damons
Finally, the planets aligned. During a full lunar eclipse, at 11:43 p.m. on October 27, 2004, the Boston Red Sox swept to their first World Series victory in 86 years and, in the process, emphatically exorcised the ghosts of Octobers past.
Baseball is, of course, only a game. From an entirely contrary perspective, major league baseball has become a very big business. For Red Sox fans, however, the hopes and dreams inspired by baseball make it more than a business and far more than a game. And the drama of the recent championship run still resonates on a broader plane, two weeks after its realization.
We've all by now heard quite enough of curses and championship droughts, and of the euphoria in ending both. My closing reflection instead considers the twin themes of hope and redemption so prominently on display during the Sox' improbable dash to the finish.
Facing elimination from a deficit no team in history had overcome, the Red Sox nonetheless won one game, then another, and then two more, until the impossible became an accomplishment. The team's recovery marched in virtual lockstep with the recovery of some of its key contributors.
In the movie The Natural, an aging hero dramatically wins the championship game as blood from an old wound seeps through his jersey. For the Sox, Curt Schilling mimicked Roy Hobbs in twice pitching his team to victory on a barely stitched ankle, while seeping blood turned his sock genuinely red. Other players rose from the ashes to make decisive contributions in key games. Mark Bellhorn and Johnny Damon hit so poorly during the early games of the Yankees series that many fans said they should be taken out of the lineup. Derek Lowe pitched so poorly at the end of the season that he was not even part of the pitching rotation when the playoffs began. All three were instrumental in the team's eventual success, setting postseason records in the process.
We turn to baseball for entertainment; it is perhaps the original reality TV. Though it is only a game, its drama and unpredictability serve as metaphors for the hopes and dreams of our personal and civic lives.
Since the World Series, we have concluded a presidential election, following a bitterly divisive campaign. We face challenges, at home and from abroad, to our economic security and our physical safety. Here in Carlisle, we are still waiting to install a septic system to serve our school. And it is only starting to get cold. At times the challenges might seem overwhelming.
But we need not conquer the challenges all at once. The Red Sox mantra of "one game at a time" was a trivial cliche, until several games combined to become a sweep. More importantly, let us not underestimate the abilities of those on whom we rely to address our challenges (including, incidentally, ourselves). We are often too quick to criticize the performance of those in public view, without acknowledging that their public position is attributable in part to a track record of working successfully toward the common goal. Even when we disagree with the course our leaders pursue, are we so certain we are right that we can forget the decision of Terry Francona to stick with Johnny Damon, Mark Bellhorn and Derek Lowe? And to the extent we exert direct influence on our concerns, why shouldn't we expect success? Let's take it one game at a time — and hope.
© 2004 The