Opinion

Stargazing

Garry Gamble

As a young boy I would often sit at night on the front steps of our home in Bloomington, MN with my Dad and gaze at the stars. This was back in the day when Bloomington wasn’t the expanded metropolis that it is today, most notably with the addition of the Mall of America in 1992. In the “swell” ’50s, Bloomington comprised small farms with rows and rows of sweet corn, strawberry and melon patches, picturesque meandering creeks and teeming riverbeds . . . great for a young boy bent on adventure.

My Dad had gazed at many a star aboard a Merchant Marine ship on which he sailed amid uncertain moonless nights during World War II. Transporting much needed supplies some 6,000 nautical miles, the Liberty ship – designed for “emergency” construction for the war by the United States Maritime Commission – sailed from San Francisco Bay across King Neptune’s equator to the Philippine conflict. A conflict which began when the Commonwealth of the Philippines was attacked by the Empire of Japan on December 8, 1941 . . . nine hours after the attack on Pearl Harbor and four months before my parents were married.

It was my Dad who introduced me to the phenomenon of visual illusion that occurs when a person stares at a single star – among millions of stars in the sky – and everything else fades from view.

It begins with the peripheral – those things that are farthest away. Eventually, even the closest objects to our single focus—often the most important, significant, meaningful or sacred—will disappear.

I’ve relived that first star gazing experience with my Dad many a time over the years. Whether on a shelf-rock campsite in the BWCA or perched atop a volcanic mountain in Maui.

I’ve found a nighttime canopy of stars affords this analogy:

If we choose to fixate on only one aspect of an issue, like the single star in a galaxy of stars, sooner or later, everything else that is part of our world—including the trust relationship between a community and those that govern—will disappear, leaving a dark void.

Focusing single blame on past commissioners—evidently going back some 28 years—to justify double-digit levies is an illusion our county administrator and board of commissioners choose to continue to perpetuate.

As my Dad taught me, as others’ wants are amplified, others’ needs are diminished.

Former Cook County Commissioner Garry Gamble is writing this ongoing column about the various ways government works.


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2017-09-02 digital edition


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