Bring in the Sunshine

I appreciate the articles and comments regarding Sunshine Week. As a reminder Sunshine Week was the Florida’s press response to State of Florida legislation that would broaden the situations that public access could be blocked by the state. Watergate and the Teapot Dome Scandal are just two of hundreds of public official’s transgressions in United States history. We are wise to demand transparency in our government.

Sunshine Week and all it stands for is a positive thing. Yet, I have found myself brought low by certain aspects of it. We have learned to expect lies and half truths in both the private and public sectors of our lives. I find the tension between marketing and truth painful. I wish we demanded more honesty.

The Chicago Tribune in the 70’s, speaking of preventative cancer measures, wrote something to the effect: It seems almost un-American to think of prevention. Prevention clearly states the problem is us. My point is that the problem is far more than transparency of government. A window is only transparent if you look through it, and a government is a direct reflection of the effort the citizens put forth in stating their needs and desires.

I would like to see Sunshine Week be the ideal we strive for in all our actions. I have been asked what I thought prepared me to become Mayor. In my fourth year I still do not have a complete answer. There are definite similarities to being the Salida Mayor and being a paramedic. In both cases we become witnesses to people at their best and worst moments. In both cases most of the really messy situations were completely preventable. Finally, when something we dislike stares us in the face we want to take no personal responsibility for the negative occurrence so we look for someone else to blame.

As a ski patrolman and paramedic I have been a part of scenes that started as pure recreation and ended in death or near death. One moment everyone is having a great time and the next moment our greatest fear is occurring. The pain that the injured and their close ones feel when an extreme high is suddenly juxtaposed with the fragility and finality death represents is remarkable. In almost every case the death was preventable. I even speak of the death of the elderly. When I was most active as a medic I would see many patients at the premature end of their lives due to smoking. Every heroin overdose death that occurred in the hospital I worked for had alcohol on board as well. Every teen age suicide had been drinking. 90% of the emotional and physical pain I saw as a paramedic and as mayor is preventable.

We all have dark places in our lives. These dark places are often depicted as secrets we keep from others. The first truth is what hides in those spaces is something we are hiding from ourselves. The second truth is we are fooling no one. What is so hard to see within ourselves is blatantly obvious to those that bear witness. That is the beauty of letting the sunshine of truth and honesty into all aspects of life. It will keep the hatred based on unspoken fear from driving us into living a painful life of deceit.

Let’s put sunshine into all places in our life. You will be treated as you treat others. None of us are perfect but we rarely make our most lofty goals in life. If we aim for mediocrity we will have sold ourselves short. Demand Sunshine from your government while also demanding it from yourself.

Chuck Rose