Merry Christmas, friends, readers, countrymen (and women). WMassP&I took most of the month of December off to settle some matters, however, we are back once again to deliver our Christmas message. Before year's end expect at least two postings about local and state issues, the latter likely being a Senate assessment. Addtionally, our annual "The Year in Springfield" will be back this year. More careful planning will hopefully make all the difference in restoring this, perhaps most important feature of the political year.
Christmas is a time of renewal. Although in the Christian theology, Easter is the time of rebirth and redemption, Christmas has, through both its spiritual and secular veins more fully permeated into general consciousness. If there was ever a time in this country, this commonwealth, and in the city of Springfield, that renewal was needed it is now.
The birth of Christ offered that hope and opportunity for renewal milennia ago. In the Christian tradition, both the Jewish people, and much of the world, found their backs against the wall. Their will and their freedom curtailed by outsiders and moneychangers. His birth changed that.
Now, even if you are not interested in the theology, those parallels between the time of the Gospel and today are apparent. Today craven forces beyond our country's borders and moneyed powerful interests from within sap our nation of its freedom, choking off much needed change. The worst of a people and certain kinds of politics drive the Commonwealth into the abyss, fueled by and fueling a jaded and dispairing electorate.
And then there is Springfield. Thrashed once again by economic turmoil and emasculated by bad policies, city, state, and federal, the City of Homes stands at a crossroads. Things are not at their worst, but any attempt out of the valley of the shadows is hampered by thirty years of bad decisions, an over-nostalgic and/or indifferent populace, a neglectful state parent, and limited opportunities.
And yet there is hope. Hope for renewal. Home sales have jumped in the city, fueled by government stimulus and thawing markets. A new city council, sporting more new faces than any incoming city council in years, will be seated in January. Despite poor turnout, the establishment failed to seize control of many of the newly created seats. Efforts are underway to cleanup the South End and redevelopment of the Gemini and Chapman Valve properties, even if not imminent may be a boon once economic recovery is complete.
Truly, it is renewal that Springfield needs in this time of comfort and joy. Nursed back to health (or sorts) by the state, the opportunity exists for a change. However, that change will be long and hard. Like making real the hope and opporunities the birth of the messiah offered to the world, that change must come from within; there must be change within the hearts and minds of the residents of Springfield and those who otherwise hold sway over the city.
There can be renewal, if we accept the opportunities bestowed upon us and open our hearts to that renewal.