2/14/2012 11:57:00 AM Editorial: A vision for Arizona’s next century
The Arizona Territory had a rich history that continues to be mined today. The State of Arizona, in its first 100 years, has been equally shaped by a forward narrative, tall tales, great characters and an overruling spirit of independence.
Arizona is as different from its 1912 form as it is the same. The population has exploded, doubling about every 20 years. There are interstates, air conditioning, an international airport, high-tech industries, high rises, pollution, shopping malls galore and more golf courses than Scotland. Yet, Arizona remains stubbornly the West, often wildly so, with those descending from pioneer families still not having much use for out-of-staters and their where-I-come-from attitudes. Opinions on everything from politics to immigration to personal rights are usually deep and rarely reconsidered.
Whatever beliefs Arizonans cling to, most unite in their appreciation for and willingness to protect the state’s internationally celebrated gifts of nature. No other state can boast a landscape with as much majesty and variety. Few other states have a natural environment as beautiful or unforgiving. That is what has historically drawn people here and continues to dazzle.
So what’s next?
How should Arizonans be trying to shape the state for the next century of statehood?
• Keep what is good. That means making sure Arizona’s natural and historical treasures are treasured and preserved.
• Stop what is bad. What does not work needs to go. That applies to bad law as much as it does to junk cars and self-aggrandizing politicians.
• Raise the intelligence of public debate. You’ll find old-time Arizonans who listened more than they spoke before coming to a conclusion. They were onto something.
• Seek out the future enthusiastically. Arizona has to go for more cutting edge, clean technology, not just for lifestyle but also for job security. During the housing bubble, there was a disastrous amount of assumption that the construction economy would last forever. Arizona has to keep going after industries with legitimate prospects.
• Be wary of self-interest. What’s best for Arizona as a whole should come before the wants of the individual, the city, the county or the political party.
• Arizona attitudes toward education have to evolve. This is not 1912 with the 3 R’s. Students need to be masters of that by third grade and viewing high school as just a warm-up for college. And universities must solve the issue of the exorbitant cost of higher education if we want Arizona’s future leaders to be among the best in the year 2112.
Life in Arizona has never been easy.
Neither the landscape nor the people operate that way.
That is clear as we look back and celebrate 100 years of statehood on Feb. 14.
Arizonans should be looking up and looking forward.
With the right guidance, Arizona’s future can be as rich as its past.