Cleveland Fremdschämen

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Last week, I posted on the following on Facebook:

Cleveland and LeBron should be two, responsible, consenting adults, and if it is time to move on, the last thing Cleveland needs to be is the co-​dependent, I’ll-debase-myself-if-only-you’ll-stay, undignified, crazy ex.

I’m not going to debate the merits of whatever decision LeBron makes. That’s up to him. What I’d rather talk about is Cleveland’s behavior regarding his decision. Fremdschämen doesn’t even begin to describe it.

Pinging the Problem

Connie Schultz wrote a column touching a bit on this, and the 2030 Club members quoted by her get a bit closer to the point, but still miss it. I figure the best way to root at this issue is to take a couple of ideas from the column and point out where they get derailed.

Mike Gruss thinks that “instead of spending all this money and effort to keep LeBron, local leaders/​celebs/​billboards [should be] focused on stemming brain draining [sic] and keeping other people under 30.”

Good thought, but money isn’t the issue and keeping folks younger than me isn’t the issue.

Then there’s the folks from the 2030 Club who say attitude matters.

That’s the first step! But then, it suddenly the 2030 Club point morphs into waiting for political leaders or the City of Cleveland to come to them. Derailed!

A Flanking Maneuver at The Big Fix

All the talk about LeBron being a necessity for this City, and the hyperbolic “he’s the only thing keeping this town from going ghost” is systematically symptomatic in the Cleveland zeitgeist. This town always looks for The Big Fix Silver Bullet Solution™. Roldo has been beating this drum for longer than I’ve been alive. LeBron James, The Medical Mart, Gateway, are the three that come to mind most easily. All are/​were supposed to save Cleveland from Certain Doom™, right?

Big fixes aren’t the answer, or just a band-​aid, or any other crummy analogy. What happened with Katrina, the Haitian earthquake, Deepwater Horizon? Thousands of people rushed to the sources of pain like white blood cells after an infection. Thousands of individual solutions to the same problem, working simultaneously, but not necessarily in concert.

The Real Problem

Sports fans think the Big Fix is keeping LeBron, the 2030 Club thinks the Big Fix is getting politicos & power players to pay attention to the 2030 Club, other folks think throwing money at this or that is the Big Fix.

Cleveland doesn’t need a big fix, because Cleveland ain’t broke. What’s broke are the attitudes of the folks who live here. It is easy to come up with ideas that spend someone else’s money, it is easy to say that no one in power pays attention to you. The Real Problem isn’t with Cleveland, it is with the folks who think that Cleveland is the problem.

A Possible Solution

If there is one thing I’ve learned in this town, it is that you can’t wait for others to give you permission, to come up with ideas, or to implement them. You take initiative. Cleveland is a place where you have to do things yourself; a true American city. Unfortunately, there’s a lot of talk, but not much follow-​through. What Cleveland needs are the hundreds and thousands of young people mentioned in Connie’s column, plus the hundreds and thousands of everyone else to have a good attitude about this town, to realize that Cleveland ain’t broke, and to do their part to make it a bit better anyway.

Attitudes matter, and Clevelanders have to stop feeling entitled to savior athletes, entitled to attention from those in power, and entitled to cash money. People haven’t been flocking to Portland, OR, or Austin, TX for years because of their star athletes or convention center facilities but because the people that live there are passionate about living there.

You get what you work for, not what you beg for. So instead of begging for LeBron to save us, and paying folks to stand on street corners holding placards that cheapen the meaning of the words Home, Commitment and Mission, we should love Cleveland because it is home, and be committed to the mission of our community; thousands of people with their own solutions, working for each other, not themselves.

The begging is just plain embarrassing.