Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Corner View: Animal

Corner View is a weekly appointment - each Wednesday - created by Jane, where bloggers from all corners of the world share their view on a pre-arranged theme. If you'd like to join in, please leave a link to your Corner View post in the comments at the Corner View link, and be sure to visit other participants you'll find there too. Today's theme is "Animal" and it comes from Dana. It's part of a trilogy inspired by the game "animal, vegetable, or mineral?" (do you have it in your corner of the world?)"

Rather than present photos on the four-legged variety of animals, instead I chose to go in a different direction. I thought of Aristotle's famous comment "man is by nature a political animal." (~Aristotle, 384-322BC). He posed the notion that "we can only achieve the good life by living as citizens in a state.....Aristotle identifies citizenship with the holding of public office and administration of justice and claims that the identity of a city rests in its constitution."

Are we political animals? Are we happier, more productive, or make a nicer community if we are? Or are we at root just brute beasts, like the four-legged animals, pretending that civilization is ours to create? The photos below represent citizens, officials, and municipal appointees being political animals in some way.

Some of the photos were taken with a Lomo camera. A lomo is a Russian analog camera that produces interesting photo results, charming and sometimes blurry, but unexpectedly visually interesting. This photo below was taken with a Lomo, it is of a New England Town meeting. In New England towns with Town Meeting-type of government, the citizens gather at the town meeting hall once per year to discuss and vote on the municipal budget and other issues that have been brought forward. It is a method of government that is slowly dying out, due to the increasingly large size of towns and increasingly apathetic turnout. it worked well in 1700, not so much in 2012. Here, the town council chairman stands to show his affirmative vote on an issue. Sitting down was a no vote. Sometimes we raise hands, and other times there might be a call for a paper ballot vote.

This vote was taken in a 115 year old traditional New England town hall meeting building, with white columns and imposing steps on the outside, and plenty of polished wood and high ceilings on the interior. Often, back in the day, the town hall would double as the church building too.

In the American South, there are a good many citizens who believe in Jesus. In this photo below the voting center is in the church fellowship hall. These are two of the portable voting machines with the painting of Jesus above them. It looks like He is blessing the voters, lol.

In another lomo photo, the town officials here relax and chat for a few minutes after a formal Town Council meeting. The elected officials are simply citizens of the town who, for one reason or another, decided to enter the political arena and campaign for election to serve a 1, 2, or 3-year term. There is often an appointed town official such as a manager, who sees to it that the council's official orders are enacted. The citizen councilors make policy and the appointed and hired officials carry through on the details.

In this photo, election results are read out loud to those who had cared to wait around for the final votes to be tallied. By this time of night, usually only the candidates and the reporters hung around to hear the official calling out of the results. The ones reading out the results are also citizens, hired to perform this one duty once per year. They are trained, but this is their official act in their one yearly official office. This kind of person is a short term political animal- participating in an integral part of the political process but their duties end when the polls close. The man with the beard was the "Election Warden." He is like the King: completely in charge of everything that happens inside the voting place, aware of the laws and called upon to enforce them every moment the polls are open. His answer is final.

Parades in New England USA are places where our penchant to be a political animal, and a patriotic one at that, is displayed proudly. Many people of a town are involved in the political process some way, or perform civic duties in some capacity. Any and all people are invited to participate. The political animal roars more loudly in some than others, though.

Officials from several towns gather to discuss a property development that affects their town. Cooperation in and among several different towns is common. Even work-meetings such as this one are open to the public. Several of these elected officials pictured below had held office for more than ten years or even twenty, indicating their love for municipal service. It has to be love, because the pay is extremely low, the aggravation factor is high and the hours it takes to perform duties are multitudinous. These kinds of officials are the most representative kind of Aristotle's political animal.

Sometimes teens and youths participate in the civic process. Being a political animal may be a 'bug' that bites someone for life, as noted above, or it may be a short-term interest that brings out people to coalesce around one issue. After the issue is over, the political animal goes back to sleep, lol. Here, high school students were protesting to the School Board a popular teacher's firing.

Another parade, a Memorial Day parade. This is a parade which honors those soldiers who have given their utmost sacrifice, their lives, in battle or on duty. It also honors veterans. We cannot be political animals without the freedom to do so, and it is the military who had fought for this freedom we in return honor with a special day each year.

So that is my "Animal" Corner View. Thank you for visiting!


♥ w o o l f ♥ said...

of course we're animals too...

Victoria said...

A unique and very relevant take on the 'animal' theme, especially with so much political unrest across the globe these past few years. People who once stood back or were kept back, are now letting the political animal rise up in them - protests, demonstations, the downfall of dictators caused by the masses.

A unique take on the 'animal' theme

Francesca said...

I think in our large communities we find the political animal in us when we're not given the freedom to do so (not everyone is a hero, but undemocratic times are when many people wake up from torpor and become activists) or when the issues are close to us. The distance between the common man and the political one is unfortunately perceived as too great in most other cases. Interesting take on the animal theme!