Barrack Obama is not the Wizard of Oz.
Neither is Jerry Brown, Jeff Denham, Sonny Dhaliwal, Dean Uecker, or Steve DeBrum.
Yet we all act like our elected leaders have all the answers to transform our lives and to get us to a better place.
I’ve got bad news for you. It’s an illusion created by campaign rhetoric and our desire to believe there are easy solutions in life.
Government — and by extension the people we elect to oversee it — can’t give us brains, heart, or courage. The road to a better life is not paved in ballots.
What drives the economy is not someone in the White House or 535 people in Congress. It’s the decisions and attitudes of 319 million Americans.
And while it’s true government can manipulate our lives through regulations and such they can only control it if we buy into the myth that decrees and official pronouncements power change.
Just like Dorothy we have great expectations that wizards in capital cities can solve our problems, allay our fears, and bring about peace. Then every two or four years when we realize that hasn’t happened, we get frustrated and angry. But instead of taking a different course, we search out new wizards.
We often fail to realize we hold the answers not government and certainly not politicians.
Seven years ago, you’d be hard pressed to find someone that wasn’t convinced the economy was collapsing and slipping into a downward death spiral.
While most people were waiting for government to do something, those that understood wizards — and the political magic they create — knew they didn’t hold the answers.
Among those people were Manteca Pastor Mike Dillman and the congregation of The Place of Refuge.
The Great Recession had the nation in its grasp.
The church had needs — expenses to cover, outreach efforts to fund, and people to help.
They didn’t wait for government to save them.
They took matters into their own hands.
And they did it by taking fear head-on by using their own initiative.
They bought a foreclosed home on Grant Street in Manteca that had become to symbolize all that was wrong with the economy and the world.
It was a fairly new home that had its ownership divided and then sold over and over again through various banks. Vagrants and vandals had left much of the home a mess punching out walls, ripping out copper wiring, and generally trashing the place including graffiti on the walls and defecating everywhere it seemed except the toilet that wasn’t working because water had been shut off.
Some of the riffraff had neighbors living in fear. Police were called out multiple times— including sometimes twice in one day. There was nothing they could do since they could not establish who owned the property as banks had flipped it numerous times. And without a property owner saying those on the premises were trespassing authorities were powerless to do anything.
Dillman looked at the property and came up with a plan. They were guided by faith as much as they were by the spirit that built America — individual initiative.
Most folks thought they were crazy. One man even expressed an opinion in a letter to the paper that what Dillman had convinced his congregation to do was not just crazy but criminal and that he should be prosecuted in some manner by jeopardizing the $160,000 plus the church invested in buying the property.
In less than four months the church had cleaned up their property, made it suitable for sale and found a buyer turning a profit of around $40,000.
This took place as the housing market continued to collapse.
It wasn’t divine providence exactly, but pretty darn close.
By that I mean the teachings of faith are designed to encourage people to keep an open heart even in times of darkness, to not lose their head and to have the courage to forge fear.
They didn’t wait for government to come to their financial aid not did they wait for government to save a neighborhood. They took the imitative.
What do we really expect of Obama et al? Yes, they make policies we may disagree with and spend money in manners that we abhor. But for our general overall well being how much influence do they realistically exert?
It’s true we often whine like our entire being is at their mercy. And there are those who work themselves up so much that they believe it is.
If we want our streets safer, our parks cleaner, and our city services more efficient there are countless things we can do short of arming ourselves and cutting park grass.
Every time we don’t turn a blind eye to questionable activities, refrain from littering, and reduce water waste and don’t co-mingle garbage and recyclables we are helping keep streets safe and the cost of government down.
This column is the opinion of Dennis Wyatt and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209.249.3519.