Recovering a Gem

Lake Park… it’s billed as the Jewel of the Palm Beaches.

I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking someone has pilfered the gem in a slick heist and we’ve been left with a fake.

Our town has been tempered and molded to the point where the atmosphere is almost foreign compared to what it once was. For a long time I couldn’t quite verbalize what the problem was or to what exactly all of my questions were pointing or where that cold empty feeling came from around here, I just knew I didn’t like it.

Turns out the jewel that is Lake Park has been removed from it’s setting right before our eyes slowly, piece by piece and policy by policy, phrase by insidious phrase, and it was replaced with a cheap imitation. As it tends to go with fakes, the shine eventually wears off, and now pits and scratches are starting to show and the sparkle is fading fast.

More than floats and fireworks

Aside from missing all the events we once enjoyed, there is definitely something more going on here. It goes beyond the fact that the Christmas In Dixie Parade saw it’s last beauty queen waving from atop a homemade float or that the Fourth of July Fireworks went out with a grand finale, or that Santa and his sleigh had the brakes put on; it’s more like the absence of soul.

Truth, tradition and purpose have been pilfered from our town, which were the meaning behind those once treasured moments. The core was what mattered, and when the valuable foundation was removed from our town, the rest naturally went with it. Something came to stand in as the new voice and face of Lake Park. After all, when a void is created, something always fills the empty space. Empty space, like empty people, tend to attract less than glorious elements to take up residence there.

[Insert specialized group here]

What came in to Lake Park and is being paraded around these days has a measured, reasonable sound to it but it hasn’t a soul. The new presence is ‘green’, ‘global’, ‘sustainable’, ‘inclusive’, ‘collective’, ‘multi-cultural’, ‘ethnic’, and ‘for the children’ or ‘the earth’ or the ‘underprivileged’ or the ‘socially conscious’ or the ‘artistic’ or the ‘gender sensitive’ or the [insert specialized group here]. The new ways have been laced with a tinge of ‘do-good’ and ‘give back’, and “conversation’ and ‘tolerance’ and ‘random acts’ and ‘eco-friendliness’ and ‘redevelopment’ and ‘economic development’ and ‘community this’ and ‘diversity that’ and a huge helping of ‘consensus’… and the town and her people shrivel up inside as this new cold and empty alternate way of life casts a gray pallor across the town they live in. But it is all so ‘smart’, they would have you believe. The politically correct labels are meant to lend a sense of superiority and indicate a concern for a host of social maladies which they will lead you to believe they as a government are here to cure if they could just get enough of our money in their hands. But there is something hidden behind those words and labels.

(I came across this book about Sustainable Development, by Rosa Koire, and the cover actually sums it up well. By now you may have gathered how I feel about this subject. I haven’t read this book yet, but it looks like it may be worth the read. I’ll try to get around to checking it out and let you know.)

It’s hard to be satisfied with a counterfeit replacing the solid traditional values our our town once rested upon. Don’t be fooled, government is not the answer. Look around for the evidence. Do you like the tone the town has adopted in the past 4 or 5 years? For all the talk of ‘the children’ and solving cultural woes and chasing after economic incentives, is Lake Park thriving? Do the leaders of our town share your values, your priorities, your worldview, your vision for the future of your neighborhood? You can always expect your town to end up resembling those who lead it. Elections have consequences, you may have heard. A good thing to take into consideration for the future.

An experiment in contrasts

All of this is something I was unable to put a finger on for the longest time, but it became crystal clear the other day when I happened upon a newsletter for the Village of North Palm Beach as I mentioned yesterday. As I read, I was absolutely overwhelmed by the contrast in the tone and focus of that town’s news compared to ours; the look and organization was far superior, yes, but it was the difference in content that I found amazing. Something inside me lit up as I read about what goes on there and the things they care about and promote; things our town seems to have no time or heart for these days as they focus on their ‘sustainable agenda’ instead. I found myself drawn to another time and place, and a better one at that. It was like stepping into a parallel world, one I wanted in on. It felt worlds away from Lake Park.

After seeing the sharp contrast in tone between our towns, the crux of the problem became evident: Lake Park is a political place. A progressive political mindset trumps all here, and the difference between this cold reality that has redefined us and what we used to be (but could be again), is startling. People want to enjoy the good life; most despise politics and shun them altogether, which leaves those in leadership who thrive on it, and the power it affords them, to run amok as people turn their heads and try to move on with their lives and find enjoyment elsewhere.

Lake Park, who once played host to uplifting family events, love of God and country and the meaningful interaction of people that knits communities together, has become another casualty of an empty cultural shift. Oh sure, there are still events in town, but they are based on economic and political considerations, because that’s what matters to most of our town leaders. It is about money and policy now, not the residents.

I hate to say Lake Park has lost it’s soul, after all, I live here but when something is politically and financially driven, it is bound to lose its heart. Residents are left with an echoing longing for meaning, relevance, faith, strength and goodness, all the things that sustain during hard times as well as good. Instead of engaging in that manner, our town has chosen to promote government programs and another sort of culture and agenda, and it has left us empty, cold and weak. It is a cheap imitation. But why try to subsist on a vacant imitation of the good life when the real thing is right within reach?

Many in Lake Park leadership seem misguided into thinking that goodness comes from their social and political causes propped up by their idea of a do-good government, but that is not government’s role. Goodness comes from God who works his good through individuals to others. You can’t fake it or force it by pushing political correctness through government programs or by throwing around citizens’ and businesses’ money as handouts. You can’t guilt or scam or legislate people into it. You can try, but the proof is in the product. People are not impressed with rhinestones once they’ve held a shimmering gemstone in their hands.

Treasure Hunters

So how will we ever be able to give back to the street where we live the clarity, cut, color and carat that made it a gem in the first place?

What this town needs is a few adventurous treasure hunters. The treasure being the Truth. The Truth being the greatest treasure known to mankind. We have to look at the truth, and restore the treasure inside of ourselves first. Once we are shored up, then we can work on restoring the Jewel of the Palm Beaches to its rightful setting. 

Problem is you have to be willing to look this town in the eye and admit what’s happening. Then you have to decide if you care enough about the treasure that is the street where you live to do something that may seem a little adventurous.

I invite you to take a look at one of the newsletters I mentioned. Maybe you too will gain some insight into what we’ll need to do to restore the sparkle and shine to our town. Tomorrow I hope to provide a list of ideas from a member of Citizens Requiring Accountability from Politicians. She has some ideas she would like to see our town implement to help restore some of that sense of community and neighborliness we have been missing.

There will likely come a time when this soul-lessness will have taken too great a toll, and turning it around will become nearly impossible as another generation grows up under this false reality. It’s imperative that we begin to direct those in leadership to change course and return the Jewel to its setting here in Lake Park before it’s too late. If they won’t do it (and they don’t seem so inclined,) then it’s time we get working, and fast… and that will most likely mean changing the bulk of the leadership in our town.

Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. I say, let’s get to it!