How lucky am I? This phrase rarely stands alone but rather is followed by something to give it more specificity. How lucky am I to have smart people want to talk to me?
This week was filled with office drop-ins, unexpected phone calls and invitations to meet new people and discuss deep topics. Even more so than election victory nights, this week may have been the most satisfying since I started Winsler Consulting five and a half years ago and the Concurrent just over a year ago thanks to the intellectual generosity of others.
But there is another phrase, a nagging one, that runs counter to the appreciative mindset of “how lucky am I?” This is “how awful it is.” Much like the first, this phrase too is often followed by additional descriptors.
How awful it is that Tuesday’s meetings are going to show just how far the county has to go to physically heal its broken infrastructure and metaphorically heal itself through somehow nursing the wounds of a social issue that has divided the county for almost a year.
This local mindset is microcosmic of what is also happening at the state level.
We can choose to think, “how lucky am I that I get to live in a state that survived covid in strength? A state that has become a safe haven for hundreds of thousands of people annually relocating their lives?”
Lately, however, it’s been much easier to feel, “how awful it is that we are so divided over social issues that the Governor took unprecedented action this week to end a taxing district in an act that can only be described as retaliatory.”
In past Concurrent columns, I have said that critics are optimists because they see the world both as it is and as it could be better, then work to bridge the two. This overstated what can quickly become the problem with critics - that the criticism can come from a place of anger or pessimism rather than joy or optimism.
This can further alienate all sides. That’s why a critical review, especially of controversial topics or people, must be approached with the mindset of how lucky am I rather than how awful it is.
How lucky are we that Governor Ron DeSantis is coming to Citrus County tomorrow? The Governor will be speaking at the Citrus County Republican Executive Committee Lincoln Day dinner, which is the result of a tremendous amount of hard work done by our state delegation, the leadership of the CCREC and the dedicated volunteers of that organization to keep Citrus County noticed at the state level.
Though I am not personally attending, there’s no doubt tomorrow will be celebratory and exhilarating.
I hope to hear what the theme of the speech is, but I have a preliminary guess: that Florida is under attack from the lunacy of the liberal left and that the only outcome is total victory over them. That’s what a political speech is supposed to be, especially to a crowd of exclusively your own party.
But how awful it would be if that’s what we thought all the time. Neither the state nor the county needs more unity, but it does need more self-awareness and mutual respect.
During this week of talking to people much smarter than myself, I have tried to come up with the answer to one thing: how do we fix this feeling? How do we solve the metaphorical wounds so we can get back to openly discussing how to fix the physical ones without fear of verbal or political retribution?
Both sides of the political spectrum can be summed up like this: the left wants to take a minority and treat it as a majority in the name of equality and the right wants to act like it is a minority and increasingly marginalized in the name of conservatism. How awful it is that neither of these approaches are helpful.
At some point, Florida Republicans and some longtime local commissioners are going to have to become self-aware that their extended stays in power have yielded some great results, but that they haven’t been able to solve everything. It’s time to respectfully defer to others for ideas.
At the same time, those who have held the minority view can’t squander the opportunity to be heard through disrespecting the time spent fighting the majority and must tactfully show leadership can come from anywhere.
How lucky am I just to be able to watch it all unfold this week?