When We Don’t See the Forest for the Trees . . . .

September 7, 2011


by Marie Kisiel

It may seem like a quirky idiom to describe our village, at one time described as friendly, welcoming, even “bucolic.”  But let’s reflect a bit more.

In a literal sense: surely we all love the trees where we live.  For many, it was reason enough to move here, let alone stay here for over 30 years: a small town, close to the city. The sidewalks end here. Children can walk to school, to church and, when they grow up, to the train station.

The sounds and sights of Winfield called out: come live here. You won’t be disappointed. We have ice cream socials, holiday parades, and Santa on the Square at Christmas tree lighting time. Neighbors know and respect each other. Old-fashioned values and loyalties.

Teachers at the local school might stay their entire careers….and some of them are still there.  You could borrow a cup of sugar or share a cup of tea. Or not.  Warm, friendly, but not intrusive.On any given street or neighborhood, find a wealth of workplace diversity, an irresistible mixture of active, retired or actively-retired residents: teachers, homemakers, home decorators, healthcare workers — doctors, nurses, therapists, administrators;  lawyers and legal assistants; car salesmen and auto mechanics; arborists, conservationists, florists and gardeners; artists, writers and publishers; bankers, business executives, accountants, planners, politicians; consultants and counselors; and entrepreneurs of all varieties. Conservatives and liberals living side by side, in harmony.

In other words: talk to any long-time resident and the response you will get: “Why would we want to move?”

Unfortunately, lately the response too often has become: “Why would you want to move to Winfield? Just observe the climate there.”

So, what happened to damage the welcoming, positive image of Winfield?

Of course, image always seems to outperform reality — but to such an extent?  With progress and growth, change is inevitable.  But perhaps we are losing sight of what we have cherished for so long. And, as a result, we are not seeing the forest for the trees: i.e., the big picture that is lost when we focus on the smaller pieces that make up that picture.

(Yes ~ we do, and in many cases should, think literally, for so many trees are now being destroyed. Nature’s revenge or man’s response to progress. )

So what is the big picture for us? And why can’t we see the forest; what is blocking our vision?

In other words: what kind of town do we really want to live in? And who gets to determine?  Well, that’s why we vote. That’s why we have been granted free speech.  Having said that, every action bears consequences.

And we all recognize the consequences of one person (or group)’s sense of righteousness or indignation. There’s no stopping such a force. In warfare, any ammunition seems warranted. And for those who cannot suffer defeat, the rounds keep coming.  Faster, louder, more explosive. In the end, of course, the battlefield is strewn with victims and lost causes. Yet, that image does not seem to deter many.

But are we really willing to risk the quality of life we’ve had here in Winfield? Is it so important to sabotage neighbors, friends, colleagues in and out office by such venomous diatribes?    Is it really politics as usual? And, if so, isn’t that an exorbitant price to pay?

On an individual, personal level it becomes a dilemma.  Do we take a stand…or take a fall?

Each of us must bear responsibility for our decisions. Surely taking the high road might enable us to live with ourselves.  And “living well truly is the best revenge”…but can we afford to ignore the potential verbal weapons that might implode?  Or do we make each other…as well as ourselves accountable for what we say and do?  In essence, do we want to protect our forest as well as the trees that we have nurtured for so long, so lovingly?

Only you can decide what you can live with. You can close your doors, pull down the shades and plug your ears.  But keep in mind:  you can’t have it both ways.

About Positive on Winfield

Positive on Winfield is a blog with articles on local issues, local events, and local interests in Winfield, IL. Positive on Winfield is the blog website of the local civic action group, Winfield United for a Better Community.

View all posts by Positive on Winfield


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