While reflection and sacrifice may be very common during Lent and during many other holy seasons of other religious traditions, they don’t seem to be themes that we as voters and taxpayers are willing to embrace very easily in public policy.
With all of the conversations about how much the “Great Recession” has in common with the “Great Depression”, the one clear difference is the lack of conversation or acceptance that sacrifices will have to be made if we are to get everything back that we are used to.
This aversion to sacrifice knows no political affiliation. Democrats are just as against sacrifice as Republicans. The only difference is that each party is willing to sacrifice something, namely, whatever the other party holds dear.
But as I have said before in this blog, anything we feel our elected leaders are guilty of can only be true if we are guilty of it ourselves. Our elected officials are a reflection of our own instincts. If we won’t talk about sacrifice, they won’t either.
I certainly don’t remove myself from this point. While my grandparents talked about gas rations and not having certain foods around during the Great Depression, most of my conversations with my contemporaries of late have been about getting less breakfast cereal for the same price I paid a few years ago.
Granted, folks are paying more for health insurance, and all of us know someone who’s been laid off recently, but I haven’t exactly rationed any part of my life at this point.
I feel that I have this in common with most Coloradans and Americans. Again, we know things are rough, but for the great majority of us, we haven’t had to sacrifice anything that we would brag to our grandkids about.
But as more and more government entities, from Congress to our local school districts begin to struggle with historic funding cuts, sacrifice may need to make a serious comeback in our lexicon and our reality.
And as I said, if we feel this is an important quality for our elected leaders to adopt, we must show them the way.
So how exactly do we pull this off?
Well, I think the conversation starts with supporting budget cuts that might be painful, but don’t just include things we don’t like. We’re going to have to trim or cut things we like.
But the bright side of this concept is that sacrifice is meant to be a short term season in order to prepare for a long term goal. Just because we cut or trim a program now, doesn’t mean it should go away forever. You diet to lose the bulk, but you don’t have to give up ice cream forever.
Finally, looking at sacrifice as an equal burden we all share will help keep things fair. It shouldn’t be about cutting programs I don’t like and fighting for programs I love. It should be more about what everyone can throw back into the kitty, sharing the burden equally.
A consistent theme of the stories of the sacrifices my grandparents’ generation made during the Great Depression is that no matter how difficult the sacrifice was to make, it was easier to handle and it was temporary because everyone was on the same page. Eventually, the rations were lifted, foods came back to market, and people traveled wherever they liked, after first coming together in sacrifice.
It’s a difficult concept, but it’s far from impossible. People of faith, and those with no faith whatsoever, can both attest to the positive attributes of sacrifice. The benefits are hard to argue.
The only thing remaining is the difficult first step.
About The Blogger
– Dominic Dezzutti, producer of the Colorado Decides debate series, a co-production of CBS4 and Colorado Public Television, looks at the local and national political scene in his CBSDenver.com blog. Read new entries here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Dezzutti writes about federal, state and local matters and how our elected leaders are handling the issues important to Colorado. Dezzutti also produces the Emmy winning Colorado Inside Out, hosted by Raj Chohan, on Colorado Public Television.