When I observe institutions and participating members of our society here in Shorewood, I think of George Santayana who said, that “human society owes its warmth and vitality to the intrinsic virtue in its members.”
The members of Shorewood have the warmth and vitality that he alludes to. Their virtue is in their desire to express this warmth and to exercise their vitality. In order for societies to function, we find that we need to establish institutions within which we can openly express these ingrained virtues.
Yet these guiding institutions tend to become deadly in the long run because we fail to attend to and to fuel the vitality of these institutions. Like birds accustomed to the seeds in the bird feeder, when the feeder is no longer attended to in the heart of winter, it practically means instant death for birds grown dependent on this established process of feeding at the bird feeder.
Unattended, our institutions tend to kill off that warmth and vitality that we as human beings are desirous to express.
Human societies have certain goals, and their institutions, in their interpretation of these goals, often call for our standing up and being counted. This is an act difficult to do, because more often than not our goals are in conflict with those of the institutions' interpretations. The very act of standing up would make us hypocritical.
Therefore, we develop a tendency not to stand up and try to avoid being counted. I recently focused, for reason of analysis and to test the role of a citizen in his own community, on the eventual loss of our bookstore here in Shorewood.
The standing up and counting has been almost non-existent. I believe this to be primarily because most of us would not know what we were being asked to stand up for. Was the institution really asking for us to obey the command, for example, that we honor our fathers and our mothers without informing us as to how this was to be accomplished?
Could the institutions in Shorewood inform us as to the importance of this bookstore to our community and how we needed to preserve its function and indicate to us that we needed to stand up and be counted, this time without hypocrisy?
No, only silence, as though this object, the bookstore was never there, never of importance, therefore how was it to be preserved? For whom, for what reason and was it really in the institutions' interest, never mind the community interest?
When our institutions stand up, it is usually a hypocritical function. Institutions seldom stand up nor do they often ask the citizens of the community to stand because they do not want to be trapped into saying that they will feed the birds but later be found failing to do so.
So our warmth and vitality should perhaps not be expressed through unattended institutions and the formality of “non-elections.” I believe that we must stand up on our own and find and indicate the reason for being counted and for expressing our warmth and vitality.