The Defeat of Jesse James Days celebrates a story of how individuals and a community responded in mutual interest to an immediate crisis– an 1800’s terrorist attack. These citizens from Joseph Lee Heywood to the folks joining to help put the common good ahead of their individual well being. Valiant selfless action saved the day, and it reflects the Minnesota spirit of working together to protect and to make things better. I hope others remember that, as we also celebrate enjoy the celebration, parade, food, music, carvinal and the community feeling it engenders in all of us, just like so many community pride theme days common in almost every small town in the country. We celebrate the great places they are to live.
In a recent Star Tribune article Jim Miller mourns apparent loss of this Minnesota spirit,
This change of perspective is not merely limited to our elected officials. They are, after all, reflecting the attitudes and beliefs of many citizens in this state and country that individual interests take precedence over those of society in general. “Regulate my neighbor’s conduct, but not mine” seems to be the mantra, or, as the old German saying goes, “First comes me, then comes me again, then comes you.”
Decisions about the appropriate level of government spending are always difficult. More spending is not always the answer. But, when such decisions are primarily driven by self-serving motives, they will inevitably result in shortsighted and ineffective outcomes over the long run.
Like it or not, we live not only as individuals. We also live in a society and in communities whose interests must at times come before our own. It is the only sure way of maintaining “The Good Life in Minnesota,” as Time described it and which we have enjoyed and continue to expect.(Jim Miller: Minnesota suffering from a case of ‘first me, then me again, then you’)
We can recapture the Northfield/Joseph Lee Heywood spirit of valuing the common good I see it present in so many Northfielders, who are working to make life better for all. I believe we can turn around the trend our current government is setting for us. We need to make that a priority and protect our communities from the economic “Jesse James” of our era.