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Gordian Knots: Simple problems made to look impossibly complex

Over the years my kids have brought me a variety of knots that they were unable to loosen themselves. As time goes on I think I’m getting better at untying them. The trick is to push part of the knot back into itself which eventually creates a section loose enough to pull on.

Sometimes I think our nation has tied itself in a knot that will never be undone, or maybe worse, will be undone by an arrogant ruler who cuts it in half like Alexander the Great and the Gordian knot of antiquity. 

One thing I have learned, beyond the shadow of a doubt, is that if you just keep pulling in the same spot, the knot will only get tighter. The same is true for our nation and our neighborhoods, if we keep trying the same things that got us in this mess we’re doomed to repeat it.

A knot as large and as complicated as the greed and corruption within our political, religious, and economic systems may at first seem impossible to fix, but it’s important to remember that no matter how large the United States grows, it is and always will be just a collection of cities. 

We might not be able to change the federal government, but we most certainly can change our city or county council. And we can, in a relatively short period of time, drastically change who primarily benefits from the money and support given to our community.

 It’s really not as complicated as it might appear. In every city there are usually a small number of businesses and organizations that are regularly chosen by politicians and quietly supported by pastors, to benefit from your taxes and from state and federal investments.

That money rarely goes to those who need it the most and in Terre Haute, like many other cities, the politicians making the decisions are usually elected by slim margins in races with incredibly low turnouts. What that means is that a relatively small group of people can work together to get a new candidate in office.

The key is to not allow your frustration and disappointment with the past to stop you from getting involved in the present. Those who are currently in power are hoping that you don’t, but they’re also betting that if you do, some other issue will prevent you from working with enough people to make the change possible.

This strategy, of focusing your efforts at the local level, has also been shown to be one of the most effective ways of bringing about change at the state and national level. Organizations like RepresentUs are helping shed light on this phenomenon.

According to a 2015 Bloomberg article, “Social change in the U.S. appears to follow a pattern: A few pioneer states get out front before the others, and then a key event—often a court decision or a grassroots campaign reaching maturity—triggers a rush of state activity that ultimately leads to a change in federal law.”

This article is going to be the first in a series focused on corruption and our responses to it. It is my hope that this information will help anyone who feels like our society is broken and that it’s impossible to fix. 

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