By MICHAEL RODRIGUEZ
There’s plenty wrong with this city. Some people are rude, others scheme and there are those who lie so often that they’ve forgotten how to tell the truth. Among their most significant accomplishments include widening a rift that’s divided the community. Congratulations.
Sadly, the people I’m referring to are adults. Even sadder, they believe that garnering the support of a thousand or so people from a community where 25,000 reside, 11,800 of which are registered voters, somehow awards them absolute power. Newsflash: All that means is that you haven’t been able to motivate more than 10 percent of the voting population to head to the polls. I wouldn’t brag too much about that.
But there’s another side to San Benito that, while often mistaken for “passion,” represents something much more admirable – perhaps benevolent. Take, for example, this weekend issue’s front page article about school district employees’ response to recent tragedies. Literally thousands of dollars have been donated in the form of monetary contributions to families mourning the untimely deaths – in separate incidents – of a 7-year-old girl and a 38-year-old bus driver. There was also the case of sick days donated to a longtime maintenance worker battling cancer; he needed the extended time off to undergo chemotherapy and radiation treatment. These donations and gestures came straight from the pockets and hearts of San Benito CISD employees. Well done.
While not tugging at the heartstrings quite like the aforementioned instances, also take into consideration the pride San Benito residents have for their sports teams. No matter what controversy is brewing at the time, we all wear purple and gold during the Battle of the Arroyo and cheer side-by-side; we all cheer for our band, cheerleaders and belles, and we all hate Harlingen.
So how is it that we can be unified in sporting and extracurricular activities as well as supportive of members of the community during their time of need but so heavily divided in matters that concern the entire town? Of course, I’m talking about education, economic development, infrastructure and emergency services. Should we not be as united, as enthusiastic about these issues as we are about the Greyhounds? Should we not find it in our hearts to extend a hand of kindness to our leaders, and our leaders to their constituents? I often find that some people’s initial reaction to anything they disagree with is to undermine and ridicule. These tendencies, however, go beyond passion and arrogance, pride and prejudice. Consider the irony in the fate we’ve made for ourselves, that while so much work has been completed to advance the city we’re still defined by the controversies spawned from said work.
San Benito is a city of music, art, culture, free spirit and, yes, good people. It’s where you can drive down a street and find some of the best pan dulce around, an old school conjunto dance hall and a place for local alternative bands to play all within a two-block radius.
In fact, it’s interesting to note that the idea for this column came when I was listening to the new Atoms For Peace album. I thought to myself, “If only I could get School Board President Yliana G. Rodriguez and Vice President Anna Cruz in the same room, or Chuy Aguilera and trustee Oscar Medrano.” I was so moved by one particular song on the album that I believed, in my mind, that the music could act as a sort of icebreaker, something everyone in the room could enjoy despite their differences – sort of like the way we all find common ground when rooting for the Greyhounds. And in that moment – when everyone is off guard – maybe, just maybe they’ll listen to reason.
I know it’s naive to wish for this, but it’s better than the alternative: cynicism. So why not “give peace a chance,” as John Lennon once said… or in my scenario, give Atoms For Peace a chance. After all, I refuse to believe that the answer to all the fighting and bickering is more fighting and bickering. This is not San Benito. This is merely how a few people from San Benito, who happen to be in positions of power and influence, react to adversity, sadly.
Read this story in the March 3 edition of the San Benito News, or subscribe to our E-Edition by clicking here.