The 12 Days of Christmas Vacation (or, Where Do We Go From Here?)by Kyle Michaelis
Spending time with family and friends this holiday season, simply reading the news rather than consuming it in the hopes of offering informed and thoughtful commentary, made for a pleasant Christmas break that makes me question - yet again - the purpose of this site.
Admittedly, there is a need for a progressive voice to challenge the atavistic, complacent, and reactionary impulses of Nebraska's press and politicians so dangerously confused for the status quo by the people of this state. The idea that this site, let alone my writing, might even begin to serve such a function, however, reeks of the most grandiose delusion imaginable.
There are those who believe "blogging" to be a revolutionary new battleground for the soul of America. I do not personally agree, rejecting this supposed revolution as yet another instance of hype trumping substance. Nevertheless, there is potential in this new media (so far as it can be considered such) to get ideas out there, get people talking, and - maybe, just maybe - get them to cast-off the low expectations of themselves and the government that has so crippled us as a democracy.
The Internet, by way of sites such as this (I hope), also has the potential to encourage and advance the ideal of the independent press on which every freedom we hold dear relies. Information truly is power. I do not envision a future where blogs will truly wield power of their own, but they surely can serve as a conduit by the accountability they might force and the alternative perspectives they provide to restore some of the power to the people that is now so manipulated and wasted by the purveyors of talking points in the Mainstream or Corporate Media.
Of course, so much of the online community is little more than a sounding board, happy to to be co-opted by those in the business of message control - the prevalence of such sites not only obscures but also jeopardizes whatever possible good might emerge from hence. How sad that this sort runs such risk of winning the day - at such cost to the future - by virtue of the near-impenetrable echo chamber they create.
Where does that leave us? Where does that leave this site? My own motives are simple - I am passionate about the singular ability of government to serve the people, particularly the forgotten and disadvantaged in society. I believe in education and the free exchange of ideas as the only hope for enlightened democracy, detesting ignorance and hypocrisy even while admitting I myself am sometimes guilty of both offenses, reason for which I am committed to subjecting my opinions to the criticism of others that such instances might be revealed.
As I've reiterated almost everyday over the last 9 months, I also look at the Nebraska media and see a critical shortage of anyone willing to even nudge the "Powers that Be" on behalf of the people. Worse even than that, the silent slumber of the progressive spirit in this state has become so deafening and deadening that it might well be a sin not to do what one can to call it forth. As feeble an attempt as it may be, this endeavor has been just such an answer to the duties of moral and political conscience.
But, more even than those reasons, I have maintained this site because I love to write. I have needed a creative outlet and have been fueled in my meager efforts by this need. It is on this front and for this purpose that I am most torn about continuing the New Nebraska Network in its current capacity (if at all). This is not a format that lends itself to refinement. For lack of substantive input from readers, I can't even claim that it has spurred much growth in my own thinking besides that inspired by the failure of my out-sized ambition. I yearn for something demanding of more than just my time and effort, writing that is inspired by more than the day's headlines and my all-too-predictable opinions.
No, I'm not going to cease work on this project nor on the even greater project of reaching the people of Nebraska and opening their eyes and minds to a new political identity that better fits what I believe to be their inherent decency and common sense. The New Nebraska Network lives...for now...and, I hope, for the near future. Yet, I make no promises or assurances for the form or the regularity of posts in its second calendar year. Whatever muse I follow - not for want of urgency or purpose - nevertheless suggests that other creative pursuits less remote and immediately gratifying might well take precedence soon. We shall see.
There are great things to be done - that is for certain - but I am not so foolish or arrogant to think this site might play more than the smallest of parts - a cameo in what will hopefully prove a tale of overcoming what once seemed insurmountable odds. If I can accomplish anything, I would like it to be encouraging other voices to come out of the woodwork. Be thoughtful, be respectful of others' opinions, but also be proud of what you believe and unafraid to question all who imagine themselves authorities in the press, in the statehouse, or even at the local coffeeshop. Those of us who truly give a damn about our fellow citizens and about the future we leave for future generations must take it upon ourselves to inspire and enlighten by our conviction, courage, and veracity.
I'll be right here doing my part for at least a while longer. I have not yet had my fill of having my say. But, the time is long past due that others be heard...whatever the format, whatever is on their minds. Only in our silence is the failure of our dreams assured. Yours is the voice that you seek.
That's enough from La-La Land. HAPPY HOLIDAYS! Now, let's get back to work.