Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN


February 19, 2013

We the People: Cranes, politics and progress

CROSSVILLE — We’re in a flyway for large flocks of migrating sandhill cranes. Their trumpeting approach can be difficult to localize. As the flight nears, the birds’ colors blend into the sky with the outlines of long necks, wings that spread five to six feet and feet and legs stretched out behind in natural aerodynamic efficiency.

I saw one recent flight circle to follow their leader and wait for stragglers to catch up with the main flock. One straggler was struggling to stay aloft. It faltered and began to fall, still fighting against the loss of altitude. The remainder of the flock seemed to pause. When the falling crane disappeared below the tree line, the stragglers rejoined the main flock and the flock pressed on against a light wind. They sensed that it is best to stick together.

Humans have a tendency for personification—attributing human qualities or imagined human behavioral traits or habits to lower-order animals. Because the cranes left a member behind that day perhaps the main flock was made up of conservatives. They circled to let the stragglers join, but when the lone crane began to fall they made the falling bird accountable for its own behavior and its own survival. Conservatives say, “That’s just the way it is—every crane for itself.” Others might say the straggling cranes were progressives and fell behind to encourage the aged or wounded bird. Progressives might imagine both compassion and valor for the flock to pause as the elder or wounded one dropped out so the flock could continue unhindered and the wounded one could meet its end on the wing, never giving up. But that is only personification.

Humans also move in flocks, but metaphors provide no data. We have different concepts of “the American Dream,” of where we hope to work or who we hope to be. The dream may be a full belly and a warm place to sleep. It may be of a large farm or a palatial home. Or it may be only a fervent hope that our family will be healthy and prosperous. No matter what we imagine as the dream, we may never get it all, as a nation or as individuals. But most of us have a shot at a part of our American Dream. But we cannot flap and squawk in a circle like Congress trying to solve a simple problem. If we want the dream we must go after it, helping others if we are able.

Our dreams are not singular. They’re different for each of us. In our democracy we elect leaders partly on how we prefer our government to help its citizens. Some notice other citizens who could use some help. Others believe it is every individual for himself or herself. Some of us take too much. Others must give too much, especially in war. Few of us appreciate the mysteries of our own good fortune or the tribulations of others. But how we all work together determines the character of the country. To some extent both cranes and humans operate on instinct. Humans also have common sense. But our common sense often gets lost in politics. The last election is over, like it or not. Common sense says it’s time to get over it, to quit pouting and follow our elected leader. That’s what democracy is all about. Win some, lose some, but keep moving in the same direction.

• • •

This column represents alternative thoughts to other published columns in the Crossville Chronicle. “We the People” is published each Wednesday. Opinions expressed in “We the People” columns are not necessarily those of the Crossville Chronicle publisher, editor or staff. For more information, contact John Wund, editor, at

Text Only
  • Lion and the Lamb: Our war on women

    Jimmy Carter, who was president from 1977 to 1981, has had quite an impressive career as an author. His first book was published in 1975, and he has now written a total of 37 books, 23 of them after his presidency. He has set a high example for other past presidents, especially those who would like to find ways of being as beneficial to their nation as possible in the days after their retirement.

    April 22, 2014

  • Tidbits: "Selfie" destruction

    Technology continues to profoundly impact our daily lives, from the Heartbleed Bug that put hundreds of thousands of websites at risk of compromising customer usernames and passwords, to the little light that tries to tell me I'm about to run out of gas. Technology also impacts our language, with new words being created to describe the latest gizmo, gadget or trend.

    April 21, 2014

  • Stumptalk: It depends on what you mean

    A writer’s headline asks, “Do we really believe in democracy?” To which I answer, “What do you mean by democracy?

    April 21, 2014

  • LION AND THE LAMB: Four ways to demonstrate opposition

    Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan mention in their book, “The Last Week,” that Roman-occupied Palestine during the first century was under the control of Pontius Pilate who lived in the coastal city of Caesarea. Each year at the beginning of the Passover observance when Jews celebrated their liberation from Egypt, Pilate feared that they might be getting ideas about revolting from Rome, so he would come with additional soldiers on horses to beef up the Roman garrison in Jerusalem. 

    April 15, 2014

  • WE THE PEOPLE: Is it (new) party time?

    The Democratic and Republican parties are toast, according to Joe Trippi. The Republican Party is coming apart at its Tea Party seam. Democratic candidates struggle to celebrate President Obama’s health care successes, while responding to criticism of his failed promises, e.g., government transparency.

    April 15, 2014

  • TIDBITS: I found it at the library

    I have such fond memories of going to my local library as a child, searching through shelf after shelf and finding a book that would make me a Little Princess in World War II England, or bring me along as Nancy Drew solved the Secret in the Old Attic.

    April 14, 2014

  • STUMPTALK: The reason words have meaning

    If words did not have accepted meanings we would not be able to communicate effectively and civilized society would not exist.

    April 14, 2014

  • Lion and the Lamb: Do we really believe in democracy?

    The recent Supreme Court decision, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, is in a long line of debates about power in a democracy. Should power be in the hands of all the citizens or should it be in hands of those who have greater wealth and social position?

    April 8, 2014

  • We the People: Public education or business opportunity?

    A month ago, we followed the money trail left by a ‘think tank’ to the major sources funding an attack on our traditional, locally controlled public schools. We saw that a handful of billionaires provide major support to many organizations lobbying for change.

    April 8, 2014

  • Stumptalk: Just another government lie?

    There is a vault located in Fort Knox, Kentucky. It was built in 1936 and encased in 16 cubic feet of granite and 4200 feet of cement. The door is made of 20-inch thick material that is immune to drills, torches and explosives.

    April 7, 2014

Marketplace Marquee
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
AP Video
US Proposes Pay-for-priority Internet Standards Wife Mourns Chicago Doctor Killed in Afghanistan FDA Proposes Regulations on E-cigarettes Kerry Warns Russia of Expensive New Sanctions Mideast Peace Talks Stall on Hamas Deal Cody Walker Remembers His Late Brother Paul Grieving South Korea Puts Up Yellow Ribbons Raw: Kerry Brings His Dog to Work Raw: Girls Survive Car Crash Into Their Bedroom Three U.S. Doctors Killed by Afghan Security Yankees' Pineda Suspended 10 Games for Pine Tar Colleagues Mourn Death of Doctors in Afghanistan Ukraine Launches Operation Against Insurgents Obama Reassures Japan on China Raw: Car Crashes Into San Antonio Pool Time Magazine Announces Top Influencers List Raw: Angry Relatives Confront SKorea Officials Bigger Riders Means Bigger Horses Out West Yankees Pineda Ejected for Pine Tar Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar
2014 Readers' Choice