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Carolina Chase, Williston, Published October 05 2013

Letter: Have we sold our values?

A town reveals itself not only by the architecture it builds but also by the standards it sets and the values it honors.

The Sept. 13 shutdown in Williston, N.D., of Concordia Lutheran Church’s overnight program – the Aug. 19 shutdown of any public discussion on code modification or timetable flexibility at the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting; the tardy and marginal coverage in the local press about the subsequent life-death state of affairs – pull into focus a flash point issue flaring-up all over the nation and the globe: The face-off between the insidious corporatization-standardization-militarization – with its mechanically narrow emphasis on profit-profit-profit – of our sovereign cultures – versus protection of those unspoken beliefs based on trust and inherited values; of those vital bonds that link a community through tradition, history, language and religion; of those cherished values that define our identity, our sacred sovereignty.

Surely, a more equitable balance, a better managed arrangement between the profit motive of the corporate state and a community’s duty to uphold what it defines as its rightful sovereignty is not only feasible but profoundly obligatory. The security of the human person is an internationally recognized, fundamental bedrock principle. The dire situation revealed here in boomtown Williston, i.e. the woeful lack of decent affordable housing, of even the most basic accommodation – mere sleeping quarters – for the working class wage earner, many of whom left family and comfort behind to secure jobs here in view of the fact that now, in so much of this country, mere viability is a struggle – is unnecessary, unacceptable.

The Concordia overnight program served women as well. I know, for I was and shall remain, one of them. The “hallways” were nightly filled with tired, persevering men who treated the few women there with respect, courteousness and kindheartedness. I sing their praises. To Pastor Jay Reinke’s credit, a raised bar, a higher standard was set: only those drug and alcohol free, no vulgarity or violence allowed. It worked, for we all felt safe, warm, protected and ready to face the brutal challenges of a culture gone horribly wrong. The weather turned cold, crisp and wet, there is real suffering and fear among those brave, dear-hearted men; and, tonight – contrary to this town’s traditional values – few seem interested in facing up to what is unfolding outside their very windows. To date, no other provisions have been made.

This life-death state of affairs shall not, cannot if we call ourselves human beings, go unnoticed, unremedied.

There is much to admire here in a town wearily tested with boom-to-bust, boom-to-bust, and now boom-to-no rooms. Children, clearly a top priority, are so musically happy here, their playgrounds numerous and beautifully designed. This essentially warm-hearted community with its strong connection to the land and to each other, with its grounding in core values, with its robust grounding in the concerns of real people ought to realize this: The new arrivals are not the enemy here, rather, corporatization-standardization-militarization.

What is at stake here is the rampant corporate takeover, bit-by-bit, of our schools, governing bodies, media, local stores and sacred sovereignty in towns and in countries all around the globe; therein, lies the cold-blooded retrograde greedy enemy. Corporate power will concede nothing without demand.

Together, new arrivals and locals alike have the power, the numbers to vote those corrupt officials and those not savvy enough out of office. Together, we become a force to reckon with in our demands for better governance, for greater transparency, for a more humane approach to quality of life issues. Together, when we decide to step-it-up in support of one another, that collaborative stirring shall not only shift a culture gone so topsy-turvy wrong but shall beam out hope to similar communities around this nation and the world now engaged in the same face-off. The world is watching.