Our mutual inheritance

COMMENTARY

“Caught in a rip current, even the most strident limited government extremist would likely welcome rescue, even if the person helping them just happened to be an employee of municipal government.”

MARK SCHUMANN

Landscaped photographers will tell you subtle colors and striking images are often to be found looking, not directly into a rising or setting sun, but in the opposite direction. That was certainly true yesterday evening. (picture above)

This past week, I have been a guest in an oceanfront home in Castaway Cove in Vero Beach. Yesterday, I photographed that magical time when the setting sun paints the earth’s shadow across the eastern horizon in shades of purple and pink. After the show was over, I settled into a comfortable deck chair on the front porch. Dusk slowly slipped to night, as sea grape leaves rustled in a ocean breeze. All the while, a near full moon stood guard against darkness. Ocean waves rhythmically caressed the shoreline, while the soft colors of “pink time” faded into monochrome.

Thinking back on the light show I had just witnessed, it occurred to me how few residents of Vero Beach and Indian River County could ever enjoy the magic of “pink time” at the ocean, if it were not the stewards of the past, our community’s founding pioneers, who wisely preserved public accesses to the beaches. Then I thought of more recent activists such a Col. Tony Young, a current member of the City Council, and Ken Daige, a former member of the Council. Both men have done much to help protect public lands, including Crestlawn Cemetery, community parks, the municipal marina, and other public open spaces.

The Persian poet, Hafiz, reminds us that every living soul is, “…an honored guest on God’s bejeweled dance floor.” How important it is, then, that we take seriously our responsibility to preserve and protect natural resources for all to enjoy, and for future generations. When public lands are sold to pay legal bills, or to avoid tax increases, as the Indian River Shores Town Council is now doing, irreplaceable, limited, public resources are gone forever. Such choices are shortsighted.

Late yesterday, a commenter named Kathy responded to an InsideVero post of a video of an off-duty City of Vero Beach lifeguard saving two swimmers who had been caught in a rip tide. Vero Beach’s lifeguards are “the best,” Kathy wrote.

When it comes to lifeguarding, I don’t know what constitutes “the best,” but I do believe Vero Beach’s lifeguards are competent and dedicated. They deserve respect and fair compensation for their service. In years past, certain members of the City Council, who have represented the Indian River Tea Party’s limited government agenda, have sought to cut back on lifeguard protection at public beaches. Hopefully such proposals will not come up during this year’s budget workshops.

The beach is for all to enjoy – a mutual inheritance; and whether you are young or old, rich or poor, a city resident or a county resident, black or white, or some shade in-between, your life matters to God, and it should matter to all of us. Caught in a rip current, even the most strident limited government extremist would likely welcome rescue, even if the person helping them just happened to be an employee of municipal government.

Each morning this past week, and almost each evening, armed with nothing more than a smart phone camera, I have made it out to the beach to photograph nature’s light shows. This kind of photography is a departure for me. Over the past two years, nearly all of my photography has been done in black and white, using old film cameras. (Some of that work is on exhibit this month at Galley 14 in downtown Vero Beach.)

I enjoy making photographs in black and white because the images seem to me to be more expressive of mood and emotion. Compositional elements are not overwhelmed by bright colors. One of my favorite photographers, Clyde Butcher, says that color is “descriptive,” and back and white is “expressive.”

While all of that is true, it is also true that whoever birthed creation, and whoever is keeping the whole show in motion, is painting with a colorful pallet. Powerful and pleasing images can be rendered in black and white, but nature is not black and white. In fact, life in not back and white, though we often convince ourselves otherwise.

And that is where I have my biggest disagreement with limited government extremists, and with current political discourse in general. Government is not necessarily good. Nor is government necessarily bad. It is simply necessary. Whether the programs of government serve a necessary, meaningful purpose is another question entirely. How we frame that question about “purpose” is largely determined, I believe, by whether we realize that we are all in this together.

One comment

  1. I’m having difficulty describing your descriptions of beach, sky, and government. You’ve said it all so well. I am grateful to all who stood their ground to keep Vero Beach from becoming another high rise city and making sure the beach and parks are accessible to all. Government is necessary whether we like it or not. Phil and I will be going to see your photograph display at Gallery 14 soon. So sorry we didn’t get there last Friday.

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