by Jeremiah Glisson
May 12, 2022
“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.” Abraham Lincoln recognized the importance of having a healthy, balanced perspective and I think that most would agree that this was evident during his presidency. It always impresses me how problems that we encounter in our lives can, if we allow it, can change our world view.
Reflecting on some of the recent problems that have surfaced in this community speaks to the quality of life that we all enjoy here. You know the recent issues like E-bikes being used in the Greenway, excessive tire tracks on the beach, loud music from restaurants, removal of a play structure, or the foul smell of garbage trucks. While all these concerns are deemed important by some and do merit attention from the governing authority, these issues speak to a community that is rife with first world problems.
Maybe I choose the silver lining here. As some communities deal with tainted water, high crime, severely crumbling infrastructure, dwindling population, and massive homeless population; it’s wise to recognize the absence of more pressing community problems. It is always noteworthy when we have the occasional brush with a hurricane or even the waves of the pandemic hit our county, how the fussiness seemingly subsided for a while. When facing loss of home, property, or livelihood, the first world problems suddenly disappear. It’s strange how quickly your perspective can change when more pressing problems surface.
The question is how someone can maintain a balanced, accurate perspective when we live in an era that is absolutely riddled with misinformation. Despite having much of the world’s information available at our fingertips, the amount of misinformation that is disseminated through modern day communication platforms is astounding. The old adage of “seeing is believing” no longer carries the check mark of veracity that it once did. Check out DeepFake Tom Cruise as an example! I recently observed an inaccurate narrative about a city park concept plan got shared nearly 800 times on social media before the conceptual drawing was even shared for the first time.
It is ironic how many of the same persons that fault the “fake news” mainstream media employ the same unresearched tactics that they hold in derision. The laborious process of gathering information and then carefully distributing said information seems to be a dying art. All it takes now is a mindless and distracting flick of the thumb. I often wonder if we, as a species, have NOT sufficiently evolved or matured enough to have such a wealth of information that is so easily accessible. If you ignore it all, you are uninformed. If you follow it all, you are misinformed. What is the long-term consequence of being inundated with too much information?
I recently spent some time roaming the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. I spent one night in a small town of Grandby which is about 80 miles northwest of Denver. Not until I saw a book for sale at a local coffee shop the following morning, did I realize that this was where the Killdozer incident occurred. For those of you that don’t know, back in 2004 a local resident of Granby became highly frustrated with the local government and the local news media. He painstakingly built an armor-clad bulldozer and on June 4, 2004, he destroyed over 12 buildings in the town including the city’s town hall. After two hours of destruction, the rampage came to an end. While his story lives on, Marvin Heemeyer’s life did not. Fortunately, no other lives were lost that day. I think we can all agree that a healthier perspective may have not led to such an act of violence.
While this account of a disgruntled resident is an extreme example, it serves as a reminder of how someone can be carried away with frustrations of life. All life inconveniences can turn into stressful problems IF we allow them. The key word there being “if.” All too often the difference between something stimulating or stressful is just a matter of perspective.
Reflecting on some of the recent problems that have surfaced in this community speaks to the quality of life that we all enjoy here. The quality of life and the attractiveness of this community really are superb, which is why Amelia Island/Fernandina Beach is a destination spot for hundreds of thousands of people each year. One of our bigger community challenges is related to growth. That’s right – our community is literally too attractive to those from the outside. We have a rich history, a beautiful Greenway, pristine beaches, a bustling historic downtown, and many parks to explore.
Balance your perspective and don’t forget to buy your loved ones a few of those thorny bushes!
Editor’s Note: Jeremiah Glisson is the Public Works – Operations Director for the City of Fernandina Beach.