Recently, I appeared in a play, the Parker Arts Council's "Harvey." Written by Colorado author Mary Chase, and the well-deserved winner of a Pulitzer Prize, it has always been one of my favorites.
All of the roles are wonderful, with surprising depth and humor. I landed the part of Elwood P. Dowd, the man who pals around with a 6-foot-one-and-a-half rabbit. Since most people don't see this rabbit, they assume that Elwood is "touched."
And well he may be. The rabbit, Harvey, is a "pooka." According to the play, a pooka is "From old Celtic mythology. A fairy spirit in animal form. Always very large. The pooka appears here and there, now and then, to this one and that one at his own caprice. A wise but mischievous creature. Very fond of rum-pots, [and] crack-pots."
My thinking about the character went through several changes. First, I thought Elwood was enlightened. He was always fully present, kind and courteous. But Elwood also does a lot of drinking in this play -- so maybe he was a "rum-pot," albeit a curiously gentle and friendly one.
Two weeks ago I described the library's core mission and vision. Last week I talked about some financial challenges we face (along with everybody else). This week, I'd like to talk about what we actually plan to do over the next three years.
At the beginning of last year's campaign season, I attended a fundraiser. It was for a good local man, running for an important office. I put more of my own money into the little basket than I ever had before for a politician.
Then I had a chance to chat with him, along with some of his other supporters.
After a while, he said he had to make a little speech to the party faithful. And what he said astonished me.
Almost the first words out of his mouth were along the lines of "Of course we all know that government is incompetent and inefficient." He then went on to praise the can-do efficiency of the business world. Remember that this was just at the time we were learning about the lending crisis, and a host of other private sector misjudgments, over-reachings, and dubious ethics.
I couldn't help but notice that I had just paid this guy to insult me. Working for an independent library district is working for government. As it happens, I'm proud of that work. And I put the library's efficiency, competence, and integrity up against any organization's, public or private.
"Faced with the choice between changing one's mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof." - John Kenneth Galbraith
Isn't it the truth? Every single one of us has held onto strategies that have been clearly demonstrated not to work. Women trapped in situations with abusive men finally get themselves out -- only to immediately hook up with another one.
Business owners persist in plans that focus firmly on a long-gone past (think the American automobile industry) or demonstrate the most incredibly cynical and short-sighted greed (subprime lending, for instance).
Politicians -- whether it's fostering Great Society welfare dependency, or proclaiming the gospel of market deregulation up to, and right past, the point of public health or industry collapse -- just can't accept the fact that negative results disprove really bad ideas.
Every day we find out that things we just know to be true, aren't true at all. And even though our erroneous premises cause us direct damage, we pull ourselves together and bravely ... stay the course.
Maybe if we just try harder... If we just BELIEVE...