Heaven help us mitigate the growing problem of too many high-ways and too little open space - since state Republican leadership won't. The GOP-dominated Legislature dropped the ball last session, even voting to kill a modest bill granting citizens a simple tool to save farmland in their communities.
With pressing issues such as planning and preservation of anything green passing us by like a jet-propelled steamroller, it may be time to look on high for guidance.Of course, until recently everyone assumed Republicans had a direct link with angelic engineers and planners and that Democrats were closely tied with those down under who specialize in tunneling - most members of trade unions. Now we have it on good source the divine difference between the two parties is not as wide as some had supposed. That comes as intriguing news to Utah moderates of both parties who are weary of being impugned as lukewarm for centrist views and accustomed to hearing the donkey equated with the mark of the beast.
Checks and balances and hearty debate usually lead to a more refined political product. Since not much of that has happened regarding land use and the proliferation of asphalt, it is time to turn to a source older, wiser, and more proven than even Utah's Republican leaders: The Old Testament.
Yes, that Old Testament - not a Utah Department of Transportation master plan from 1973. Tough times call for proven solutions. Principles that helped lead Israel out of bondage and into the promised land - even with a few delays and detours - could perhaps lead us from our overdeveloped, road-construction wilderness. Though workers then were not unionized, some of their roadways, irrigation systems and pyramids are still in place. Will the Legacy Highway last that long?
For starters, quality was demanded at all levels. It is telling that Moses returned from Sinai with tablets of stone and not syncrete. Things back then were built to last.
Israel shunned mechanized individualistic modes of movement for a healthier collective alternative - walking - even when crossing the Red Sea. In fact, "the children of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness" (Josh. 5:6). Moses was charged with showing "them the way wherein they must walk" (Exodus 18:20). No wonder he lived to the age of 120, and "when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural face abated" (Deut. 34:7).
Talk about a healthy lifestyle. Manna may have helped, but getting out of the car and hoofing it to the bus stop or commuting via bicycle nowadays could prove equally beneficial and would relieve traffic congestion.
Under Moses' centralized leadership, when their highways became too busy, there initially was no talk of expansion or adding additional north-south lanes. Instead, wild beasts were sent among them, "and your highways shall be desolate" (Leviticus 26:22). Simple enough. If UTA can't get people along the Wasatch Front out their cars and into buses, turn loose hungry wild animals during rush hour. The frenzied scene might resemble yesterday's State Republican Convention - a bit bloody - but here's guessing it would work.
How effective was that ancient policy? "The highways were unoccupied, and the travellers walked through byways" (Judges 5:6). Imagine the tax savings and health benefits. It sounds like something Utah Democrats might propose, an idea a bit out of the ordinary.
But then, like now, lifestyles became stressful dodging Philistines and angry Egyptians. Government decentralized, people became more mobile and soon were commuting like we do today - one person per chariot. We suspect the populace unwisely insisted on new roadways after Moses relinquished control and com-munal concerns were tossed out the window, based upon the words of Joel: "The field is wasted, the land mourneth; . . . How do the beasts groan! The herds of cattle are perplexed, because they have no pasture." (Joel 1:10, 18) The land was all paved over, like southern Davis County will be soon.
Even still, the people apparently wanted more and bigger highways, turning from their fathers' expeditious ways as government expanded roadways using the power of eminent domain to tear down dwellings built by their largest homebuilder: "And the houses of Ivory shall perish." (Amos 3:15). The people were slow to hearken back to Moses and his wisdom in using mass transit and steering clear of cars, and it was the beginning of the end.
That is the way it happened, more or less. It makes you wonder if history will repeat itself - and if Moses was a Democrat.