SMOOTH SAILIN’: In America, we get up and do it all over again

Some days you wonder. The sun rises and sets, we toil and sweat, fuss and fight and it often seems like we haven’t made much progress over the course of the day or even the week. This can be frustrating for the efficiency expert that we all live with. But, like our high school teachers told us, a working democracy — be it in our homes, Tallahassee or Washington, D.C. — is and should be a painstakingly slow process.


Morning is the best time in Treasure Beach; day dawns with hope and balance. This time of year the rising of the sun is greeted with a cacophony of birdsong. Our feathered friends use the canals like highways. If you can get yourself out of bed and out to your back porch at first light, you can match up the song with bird when they briefly stop on their morning commute. On these Monday mornings our symphony is rarely interrupted until the trash trucks begin winding through the neighborhood. Like a cymbal in the silence, the rattle and crash of aluminum and glass from some of the fuller blue recycle bins (I’m guilty) is the opening bell for the work week. Time to get moving. Time to start the battle.

Screen time is a big issue in many of the homes I visit. My friend Nathaniel, who is 10, told us he hoped to have a one-person overnight gaming marathon on a recent weekend. He plays interactively with other kids (we think) from all over the world who are tied to their computers, too. A resourceful kid, Nathaniel began stockpiling food so he could play these video games all night. I think he would have done it too but Dad shut down the internet at around 9 p.m. He will not win that battle for much longer.

People my age are on the front lines of the struggle for screen time, as well. I watch friends get jealous when their partner is spending too much time looking at his or her smart phone. I know seemingly normal folks who have the television on all the time in their homes, usually turned to a news channel. It is like they are waiting for bad news to happen, waiting for the next mayhem to erupt from some corner of our planet. This can’t be good for you. The data comes too fast once the tap is open.

What I find myself pondering this morning is the near constant push and pull we all witness as we go forth as a society. While victories are achieved, battles are rarely settled. We fight over money and power and vanity. We celebrate our victories, lick our wounds and get up and do it all over again.

The tiresome process probably started on our shores before Pedro Menendez. The pilgrims up in Plymouth seemed to share a number of values with the Trump administration. Evidence of a culture that existed in the cliffs of the Four Corners from A.D. 550 to 1300 is on display every day at Mesa Verde National Park.

We have moved forward but sometimes it seems like we take a step back in the process.

The elected hamsters that have been running around the wheel up in Tallahassee looked at 3,000 bills in a recent 63-day session and passed 250. Money for long-hoped sewer upgrades in West Augustine got no funding. You would think we could fix that.

In St. Augustine Beach, commission members voted themselves what could be a substantial raise early this month when they decided it would be a good idea to sign themselves up for medical insurance on the city’s health plan. What a money grab. This young beach town has been cashing in on impact fees from their now vanished commercial properties for a while now. They will have to come up with new ways to get paid if they don’t want to go the way of Hastings.

If the pier goes to the County, people might prefer to boot out the local government all together. Taxes would decrease and services would probably stay the same if the County took over. Ebb and flow.

It can be frustrating watching the push and pull, the struggle for balance. Someday, the pipes will run out to West Augustine but democracy happens slowly. Especially if you don’t have a lot of money.

Bob Tis is a former Record reporter.

Bob Tis is a former Record reporter.