Got a little flyer in my mail box yesterday. Threw it away. Usually do. Probably so do you. Why…? Because in a culture where everything is promoted as big, spectacular, the largest of its kind, well there’s simply no room for little home-made flyers about local handyman services. Or some local shop that just opened in town.
Look, we’ve got big malls. big chains. big franchises. big international conglomerates for our needs. It’s the age of McDonalds and Walmart. Little locals may be nice, but they’re out of their league.
Wait a minute.
Exactly what league is that? You and I didn’t form it. You and I may not even want it. You and I — if old enough — can still remember an age when the leagues were all fairly small. And local. Maybe not always as efficient or economical. But always more personal and handy. We knew the retailer and he or she knew us. Heck, they probably attended our church or were the cross guards for our kids on their way to school. Cozy, you know what I mean….
Until around 1950, the average American was born, lived and died within a radius of 50 miles. A car trip to the Grand Canyon or to New York City was a once-in-a-life-time-if-ever event. In contrast to today’s culture in which weekend trips to London or Rome are hardly unusual.
Why these thoughts now….? Aside from an admitted affection for cozy, these very same thoughts are tucked into today’s presidential debates about the size and role of government in our lives. In such a big world it seems foolish to deny the need for a government big enough to help us navigate a big world. At the same time, it would be foolish to deny the popular wisdom: “Think globally, act locally.”
The fancy name for that is: “Subsidiarity.” Matters should always been managed by the smallest local authority possible. Have a problem with your water main…? Don’t call the state capitol, call your local alderman. A problem with your mail…? Don’t call Washington, call your local postmaster. A problem with your kid in school…? Don’t call the US Department of Education, talk to the teacher.
See..? Small and local aren’t just reveries for old folks. Often they’re what helped old folks grow old so well.
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