Thursday, November 06, 2008

Yes, We Can Have a Motto

Family mottoes are a longstanding tradition, as are political slogans. Watchwords can guide our lives or just get us through hard times.

When my ex-husband stopped paying child support and took off for California to rediscover life as an artist and musician, I got in the habit of posting such expressions on a small bulletin board. One was, “Si je puis,” a French phrase meaning, “If I can.” I was none too certain that I could cope with single parenthood on a very small salary.

Things eventually got better and the bulletin board became more likely to hold favorite New Yorker cartoons and other more whimsical stuff.

When the Spanish slogan, “Si, se puede,” came into public use, I kept getting it mixed up with the French one and had to keep reminding myself that it stated boldly, “Yes, we can.”

Of course, by now we have all heard that slogan in English about a million times in the Obama campaign.

Most recently, new Schools Superintendent Steve Gallon III came up with a motto as he took on the task of fixing a district in turmoil: “Yes, we will!” The district web site has an endless list of things that will be done – we will learn, teach, love, create, explore …

Of course, neither my very tentative “if I can” nor the hopeful “yes, we can” is any guarantee of results. And “yes, we will” certainly ups the ante by promising results. Still, a slogan or motto, to my mind, beats hell out of a mission statement when you need a quick reminder to keep on course.

Upward and onward, Plainfield!

--Bernice Paglia


Post a Comment

<< Home