I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free

Let's look forward. In 2002, Mayor Charlie Luken must either lead or lead the way to someone who will. Alicia Reece, can you feel me? People write, call and stop me to ask, "What is it with yo

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Let's look forward.

In 2002, Mayor Charlie Luken must either lead or lead the way to someone who will. Alicia Reece, can you feel me?

People write, call and stop me to ask, "What is it with you and Luken?" It's nothin' with Luken and me. Let's flip the script. What is it with Luken and Cincinnati? What's with Cincinnati?

Criticizing Cincinnati is for me the equivalent of criticizing a family member. I do it because I love this city and I want better things for us.

If I didn't, I'd be gone in a heartbeat.

Sometimes I wish I could pack up and move on.

I often think about getting a mind-numbing job so as to cut myself off from issues, people and problems. No matter how hard I try to alienate myself — to go home and close the door on the world — I always end up watching the news, listening to conversations and madly scribbling notes in my journal.

Then I reemerge with what I think are answers or, at the very least, a vantage point nobody's thought of. I'm always looking for the truth in things.

We don't get too much of that around here. It's like rain in the desert — it's a wish with little hope of fulfillment.

So as the mutha' of all holidays looms and year-end pensiveness descends, I am here to tell you that I'm tired but not beaten. In fact, I'm not even down on one knee.

But I am on two knees.

I'm praying that we can squash empty rhetoric and sloganeering and allow some room for divergent opinions, thoughts and ideas. Time has come and gone for the okey-doke we've been force-fed throughout 2001.

The disappointing court verdicts, the absence of justice, the alienation of citizens, the fear and loathing of so-called leaders, the name-calling, back-door deal-making, the pay-offs, the backstabbing and dismissals of all the wrong people have been biblical in nature.

And I know we're all tired. We're tired of trying to figure out what's right and correct. We're tired of explaining our actions and inaction to strangers and the initiated alike. We're beaten down from the relentless pursuit of slippery justice inside and outside the courtroom.

I don't normally get all off into making resolutions. Together, though, let's make some.

First, let's resolve to be honest. Don't internalize matters that have nothing to do with you. That way, when someone stands up to criticize, you won't be offended.

Next, let's be honest. Let's always be honest. When truth is the basis for all journeys, there won't be shock and horror when the truth is revealed at the end of that journey.

Don't be myopic. Life might be great for you. The sun might always shine on your street, your children might be perfect, your pockets might be swollen and you might never get sick.

Get real. Life ain't no crystal stair for most people.

If you live in a bubble of me-centered, suburban, privileged thoughts, the outside world (panhandlers, homelessness, racial strife and apathetic politicians) is a frightening proposition. But hitting the snooze button so you can keep catnapping is dangerous. It's life threatening.

Finally, let's be fearless. Let's try a new tact. The old ones aren't working. They just aren't. And in trying these new things, whatever they might be, let's not be afraid to call our so-called leaders on the carpet.

Get 'em for never having an original thought. Get 'em for asking for your vote and then squandering it. Get 'em for lying and for ignoring and disrespecting people. Just get 'em, and don't be afraid — they work for us, remember?

A new year is like a new chance. It's a do-over.

So let's not stuff anything else into our old baggage. It's already bursting at the seams. Grab some new baggage.

I've got mine, and it's by the door.

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