The ending of an old year brings about reflections of all that has happened, and 2008 will go down in history for a multitude of historic events that each outshone the other.
There was no bigger event in 2008 than the historic winning of the presidency by Barack Obama. In many ways, his win fulfilled my favorite African Proverb: On the day of victory no one will be tired. Nothing proved that more than the sight of millions of people going to vote who would not let a wait in line prevent them from performing their civic duty.
However fantastic Obama’s win may be, the reality is that it’s just one in an endless list of victories that need to occur. For example, the verdict in the case of R. Kelly was not a victory for young girls who are victims of sexual predators. The continued murder of young black men means we have not overcome the violence that permeates our communities.
There has yet to be a victory over the AIDS epidemic in the black community. Here in Austin, the opening of Food for Less is one more step toward a victory over the lack of quality grocery stores in this community. Yet the trash that litters our streets means we have failed to be victorious in getting a “do not litter” message out as well as a lack of sanitation enforcement by all three of the Streets and Sanitation superintendents in Austin. It would be nice to see the city put the same vigor into ticketing an overflowing dumpster as it does in ticketing a car whose meter has run out of time.
In Chicago, every parked car is seen as a source of revenue for the city. Yet more than 48 hours after the last snowstorm, businesses that occupy major corners as well as those along our avenues still hadn’t cleared the sidewalks in front of their stores. Considering all the anger car owners exhibited over the lack of plowing of the city’s sidestreets, pedestrians should show the same outrage about the city not fining those businesses and homeowners who are too trifling to shovel the sidewalks. A double fine should be given to corner businesses and homes who fail to shovel on all sides. We taxpayers have been funding the city’s program to put disabled access curbs at every intersection only to have those same sidewalks impassible during the winter months when irresponsible people choose not to shovel.
Crime is still an issue we need to become victorious over. Our community will never get the business community that we desire if shoplifting is portrayed and glamorized as an acceptable behavior pattern. Drug dealing on the streets is another scourge in our community as some residents choose the lazier method of selling drugs over the diligence of becoming legitimate entrepreneurs. We have unsolved murders and drive-by killings and worst, we have those who created that havoc living among us.
Politics is another area where we lack true victory. We continue to re-elect the worst representation and then wonder why our community gets so little. When we take more interest in a presidential race and pay no attention to the mayoral race, we have our priorities backwards. The mayor affects our daily lives a lot more than the president does.
We watch silently and get no victory from the city leasing out every available taxpayer-funded entity to patch a budget shortfall without ever fixing the root of the problem. Nor do we question how money is always found for any pet project the mayor wants for the downtown area while those of us living in the neighborhoods are ignored like uninvited guests at a party. We pay the highest sales tax in the nation-including a nickel a bottle tax on bottled water-while politicians continue with their failed ideology that everything can be resolved by increasing taxes. Those politicians fall short of taking into account human nature and the ability of many Chicagoans to avoid the taxes by refusing to shop within the city and county limits. I confess to being one who buys the majority of my gasoline in Indiana and all my bottled water outside of the city limits.
In 2009, let us all remember that we can never be too tired to strive for victory.