Sunday, January 22, 2006

Doing Versus Saying 

Reading opinion pages this weekend and listening to debates, it occurred to me there is too much discussion and too little action in today's political and social environment. We would rather fight than act, but the premise of good public relations is acting first and talking later. Good PR does and sometimes talks about it.

It is tiresome to see Republicans and Democrats throwing charges at one another. It is wearying to listen to fights between Red States and Blue. Thinking back on American history, there have been other periods in which there were cultural standoffs. It struck me that the practical action of the Underground Railroad transporting slaves from South to North was more important in many respects than hours of rhetoric in Northern pulpits. On the other hand, the Underground Railroad might not have been started without Northern rhetoric. Words motivated action.

Perhaps what should be happening now is action that somehow seems delayed in pursuit of cultural visions. In this regard, corporations that work hard at getting things done in communities provide an alternative to infarction that clogs governments. We may well be in a period of cultural stalemate where reasonable legislative action on many issues is not possible.

Corporations cannot replace government. They are too self-interested in pursuit of wealth, as they should be. That is their primary purpose. However, they can out of self-interest provide services and amenities that ensure their own long-term viability and by extension, some parts of society. Hence in the 19th Century, companies built factory towns and stores when they needed to house and feed workers. Some of these were unjust, but others did lend to the betterment of those who dwelled in them.

But, maybe it's just me. I'm tired of reading and hearing arguments that neither change nor advance.


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