What did we care about again?

As a kid growing up, there was a Billy Joel song that fascinated me:

We didn’t start the fire

It was always burning, since the world’s been turning

We didn’t start the fire

No, we didn’t light it, but we tried to fight it

The song goes on to list, by year, a bunch of major political and social events between 1948 and 1989. Now, I consider myself to be a bit of a history buff. But when reviewing the lyrics as an adult, I have to admit I didn’t recognize a bunch of them.

Some of this is because Billy Joel is probably motivated more by what rhymes rather than by historical significance. But mostly it’s that many things which seem important in the moment aren’t actually that important in context.

Exactly thirty days ago we were talking about the mass stabbing in Germany, the Tigray War, and the sentencing of Derek Chauvin.

Exactly sixty days ago we were talking about a round of mortar exchanges between Israel and Palestine, and NomadLand winning Best Picture at the Academy Awards.

Exactly six months ago we were talking about the second impeachment trial, the mass shooting at the FedEx facility here in Indianapolis, and the Senate confirmed Janet Yellen as the first female Treasury Secretary.

Obviously each event is important, but there are too many events for any of us to keep up with. That’s why some of these you probably don’t remember (or didn’t catch.) And in any case, most “current events” are one of these: the first time something happened, or the fact that this kind of thing keeps happening…and nobody seems to know what to do.

As your representative in Congress, I want you to trust me. I really mean that. I want you to feel that you don’t have to follow the news in detail every single day, because you know that I am, and that I am reacting in a way that is honorable, consistent, and principled.

Billy Joel is right. We didn’t start the fire. But somebody has to tend to it. And the people who do, the leaders of our world, ought be people you trust.

People who fight fires. That’s me, for you.

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