Leap of Faith


“You must choose. But, choose wisely, for as the true Grail will bring you life, a false one will take it from you.”  – Grail Knight “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade”

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” was the final film of the original “Indiana Jones” franchise trilogy (we shall not discuss or mention “Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull” here).  The premise of the movie was a relatively straightforward one. Indiana’s father, Henry Jones Sr. played by Sean Connery (who by the way is now 86), is missing and Indiana has only Henry’s journal to help track him down.  Indiana has faith in Henry’s ability to decipher the ancient codes and texts. And that faith is well placed.  The journal is a life long project put together by the senior Jones with his notes on the final resting place of the Holy Grail.  Indiana uses it to ultimately track down Henry, but their trials and tribulations are not yet over.


Eventually they get to the final resting place of the Holy Grail.  On the way to the inner sanctum, there are a number of tests that Indiana must pass to prove that he is “worthy” of finding the Grail. One of those tests involves a leap of faith.  Indiana is required to step off a cliff, into a seemingly endless abyss.  He has to literally take a “leap of faith.”  He does so, but later finds out there is a camouflaged bridge just feet below the edge of the cliff and the bridge leads to the inner sanctum of the Grail.


The original Knight Templar is still guarding it a 1000 years later, having used the healing and restorative powers of the grail to stay alive.  However the room is filled with dozens of false Grails, the use of which will cause instant death, rather then health and longevity.  One of the nefarious archeologists instantly grabs the most ornate Grail and the results are not pretty (not shown here).


In order to speed things along, Henry is shot, putting Indiana in a position of having to choose the correct grail to save his father from imminent death.


The Grail that Indiana ultimately chooses is not a fancy or ornate one.  It is a simple cup, the cup of a carpenter.  Indiana Jones knows this because of the notes in his father’s journal; his experience as an archeologist; and a certain amount of faith in both his own archeological prowess and that of his father.


Well you’ve gotten this far and you know if you’ve read this blog before, that the movie metaphors are only the teaser, to integrate with and underscore the politics and policy.  Those of you that live in Burlington have been hearing a lot about the Downtown redevelopment plans regarding the Burlington Square Mall.  If you want the facts, please go take a look at the Facebook pages Partnership for Burlington’s Future and Together for Progress.  Both of these groups have a tremendous amount of information about the redevelopment project and its importance to keeping Burlington a vibrant, lively city.  

But frankly for many of us discussion of municipal zoning, bonds, infrastructure, etc. soon makes our eyes glaze over.  It is important to note that the Partnership for Burlington’s Future is supported by Mayor Miro Weinberger * City Council President Jane Knodell * City Councilors Chip Mason, Dave Hartnett, Joan Shannon, Karen Paul, Sara Giannoni, Tom Ayres, Adam Roof  (Councilor Kurt Wright also supports ballot items 1-4 which means 9 of the 12 city councilors are in support, including Republicans, Progressives and Democrats)* Former Mayor Peter Clavelle * Former Governor Howard Dean * AARP Vermont * Burlington Business Association * Burlington Fire Fighters Association Local 3044 * Champlain College * Champlain Housing Trust * Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission * Conservation Law Foundation * International Brotherhood of Electric Workers Local 300 * Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce * Local Motion * Select Design * Seventh Generation * TruexCullins Vermont Architecture and Interior Design * UA Local 693 Plumbers and Pipefitters * United Way of Northwest Vermont * University of Vermont * UVM Medical Center * Vermont Interfaith Alliance * Vermont Natural Resource Council * Vermont Energy Investment Corporation *

Here’s the thing, just like Indian Jones, some of this process is going to take a little bit of a leap of faith.  It is going to take trust in our civic and municipal leaders of which there is no paucity of support for the project.  Now lets not confuse this with blind faith.  Ronald Reagan is famous for asking us to “trust but verify.”  This process needs to be overseen by the public, but we need to give our leaders the room and support to make this project a success.  Is it going to be a perfect project?  No.  Will there be one thing or another that is disliked?  Yes.  But that does not mean it is not a solid project.  I can also project with some amount of certainty that the Mayor wants this project to succeed, because his political future will be largely based on its success.  The Mayor has successfully accomplished a number of initiatives to date and it seems fair to place some trust in him to get this through the race to the finish line (or fight against it if it becomes apparent it is not in the best interests of the City).

Choose wisely, have faith in your elected officials and on November 8th vote YES on Burlington Ballot Items #1, #2, #3 and #4.