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Thoughts from Dr. Joe: Let's pull our own weight

February 16, 2011|By Joe Puglia

Last week I attended the forum for the candidates running for City Council. The candidates with the most potential clearly defined the evening.

I listened as each candidate spoke of his or her record and answered several questions relating to such issues as the proposed 710 Freeway extension, sound walls and the efficiency of our schools. One learns much about another by listening. Initially, words define us. But ultimately, words are only words and we define who we are by what we do, not what we say.

I was able to distinguish the difference between those running with a personal agenda and those with a perspective beyond themselves. In a perfect world, a leader’s motives would be pure. A leader serves to serve others, but sometimes we serve to serve ourselves.

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However, to their credit, all candidates expressed a definitive desire for public service. I commend those who are running for putting themselves out there. Albert Einstein said, “Politics is more difficult that physics.”

As each candidate responded to a series of questions, I would answer the question in a low mumble. My buddy Nick Sarkisian said, “Why don’t you run?”

Other than the fact I would have to wear a tie, I’ve never been tempted by the political process. However, I did run for assistant patrol leader of the Raven Patrol in Boy Scout Troop 136. I was running against Vincent Ametti, the most vile and despised kid in the troop. I won by one vote. Since then, the only leadership positions I’ve attained were decreed by an act of Congress or those I was foolish enough to volunteer for.

Public service is more than doing a job efficiently and honestly. It should encompass a complete dedication to the people and to the community, with full recognition that every citizen is entitled to courtesy and consideration. The essence of democracy begins at the grass-roots level. The exercise of democracy and its continuance as a political ideology is found in the debates of honorable people. There is no conversation more boring than the one in which everyone agrees.

Plato was instrumental in defining the importance of governance in the city-state. In “The Republic” he speaks to the issue of virtue as the glue that holds society together.

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