In 1952, a headline in The Courier-Journal read: “We don’t need more studies, we need a new bridge!” One thing that distinguishes Louisville from other cities is that we don’t just beat a dead horse ; we keep beating the horse well into its next incarnation.
This argument has been going on in one form or another for over 60 years. Granted, public debate by nature can be a very long, drawn-out process, but when someone wants to gum up the works by commissioning new studies, hiring consultants and forming committees, little things like “deadlines” and “decisive action” tend to get put on the back burner.
I have to applaud the hundreds of deep-pocketed citizens, businessmen and politicians
who believe that tedium and redundancy are nothing of which to be ashamed. Regardless of the cost and logic, their conviction to keep this debate going has raised the craft of rumination to a high art.
Over the past 30 years or so, a multitude of endless studies have come and gone. Dozens of politicians have used the bridge argument for ammunition in their campaigns. Hundreds of consultants, researchers and bureaucrats whose careers depend on this debate have had, and continue to have, steady employment, all the while feeding, clothing and providing health care for their families. Countless hours of radio, television, town hall meetings and water cooler conversations depend on this topic. This debate is firmly engrained in our community psyche. It’s who we are. For it to all come to an end is something so profoundly shocking we would just as soon believe that Moses would part the waters
so we could all walk across a dry Ohio river bed than do anything constructive.
It’s obvious that what’s really going on is deep-seated need to vacillate. So, let’s just all face this fact and admit that we really don’t want to build a bridge. We just want to talk about it. Why don’t we stop this collective “acting out,” take a deep breath and honor our collective neurosis. I, for one, propose that we devote more of our time and energy to teaching our young people how to filibuster, stonewall and cloud the issue by keeping the focus far from the matter at hand. This can easily be done by rushing headlong into new bridge studies and establishing think tanks on both sides of the river. To encourage debate for future generations, our universities could develop a curriculum with courses like “Whining and Ambivalence,” “Hesitancy 101” and “How to Suck Up to the Rich.”
I further propose that we establish an Institute of Deliberate Indecision, with headquarters downtown and a branch office in Prospect,
with light rail
connecting the two. Finally, I propose that we commemorate our coming of age by erecting a sculpture in Waterfront Park
depicting the Myth of Sisyphus
– the most profound symbol of our community’s conviction that you can always keep doing the same thing for as long as you want, and no matter how many times the outcome is the same, it will never stop you from expecting different results.