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June 5, 2007

Soul of Confusion

Roy Meachum

Politicians' everyday job is fighting for the minds and votes of every man and woman. The smart ones stir up the usually sleeping electorate only when absolutely necessary. Our democracy functions with officials on the principle: you wanted the job, now do it, don't bother me.

The inevitable exception comes at the very point ordinary men and women sense their dream threatened. Not all dreams are positive. Some Winchester Hall's bigger brouhahas exploded when "secret" schemes burst into public sight. The usual effect causes trimming back.

By whatever name, the plan to develop the grounds around the Odd Fellows retirement home will put a rich mix of new housing slightly north of where Pushkin and I rest our heads at night. Many county families and newcomers need and want to live close to the downtown and not only for shopping.

One block from our front stoop, establishments offer authentically British Isle fare, the new Cuban place whose atmosphere is the spiciest and Middle Eastern sensuousness replete with sheesha, hookah or whatever you want to call those water pipes with their flavored tobacco. And a belly dancer! She appears weekends only. The three relatively recent places extended Frederick's restaurant "mile."

Upon this much you and I can agree: the only sure way to beat gas prices is to live closer to where you want to go. One building that definitely encourages snuggling up brandishes the MARC sign. Executing a mortgage north of Thurmont will bring an additional financial burden.

Despite the bleating from the no-growth crowd, Frederick's economy and quality of life need fresh blood continuously. That's a fact. What is not a given lies in the area of chaos, confusion and anger. So many people stunt their view of reality by descending into being pissed off, a state where all reason flounders in emotion.

Walking down North Market on Saturday was another chance for the French children (and their now-grown children) to regard what has happened since their first son saw the light at Frederick Memorial, almost 21 years ago. In their real grandparents' absence, I played their roles at the maternity ward.

Anne and her husband were very impressed by the amount of restoration since they lived on Key Parkway; a transfer moved them first to Pennsylvania. They have since lived in Venezuela, a Paris suburb, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Senegal. Michele worked for LaFarge Cement before joining the World Bank. Nothing about new Frederick struck them as peculiar; Saturday they delighted strolling down North Market.

Since I live here, I find myself frequently confused.

In the nearly 25 years since moving up from Bethesda, there have been many changes, and I'm at an age now when all change should, reportedly, be rejected by me. It is, I suppose, a form of hanging on to life. New happenings supposedly pose a threat to seniors.

Instead, I find myself welcoming exciting ideas; no time stamp involved. I look at changes from the past and wondering now why I thought the former mode was preferable. A part of me resents when well-meaning folks try to convince me, because of their stereotype, what I should fancy, or not. This may be one reason I tend to champion the young.

Looking back over the years I must confess I was frequently insufferable: ordering my kids to clean their plates was one example. Insisting other adults accept my standards on what was good, or not. Thirty years ago I attempted to rule out experimentation in the social arena. Today I do not.

On the other hand, more than in the past, I seem surrounded by politicians and their handmaidens who try to legislate what is proper, in their view. I have become much more an advocate of free speech and free directions that I ever was.

Disastrously for my life and most other people I know, morality is being legislated for us.

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