Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I Do Solemnly Swear…

Oath Ceremony_03
(Photo credit: West Point - The U.S. Military Academy)
Today I took an oath. Afterward, I tried to recall other times in my life when I might have been asked to do such a thing.

Perhaps I took an oath when I was in Cub Scouts or Boy Scouts. I remember the motto was "Be Prepared," but that's not really an oath. I didn't take any oaths for our High School sports teams. Maybe I took an oath for the National Honor Society. Who knows?

I didn't take an oath when I started college. I must have taken an oath when I became a fraternity brother, but I was almost certainly drunk at the time. Of course I said vows at my wedding. Is that the same as an oath? I think so.

I didn't swear an oath at any of my jobs, although I certainly swore a lot about unreasonable customers, inept suppliers, and apathetic coworkers.

I've never been a witness in a trial. I've never been called upon for jury duty. So there are no courthouse oaths in my past. Although doctors swear the Hippocratic Oath, I was never asked to take an oath when I became a professional engineer. I only had to fill out an application and pass an exam, and then I received my license in the mail.

I didn't take an oath when my kids were born or when I received my Master’s degree. I didn't take an oath when I was executor for my father’s estate, or when I got MS.

Oaths don't seem to be a significant part of our society anymore. For most of the important events in my life, oaths were nowhere to be found. But today I was asked to take an oath, and I gladly did. Allow me to explain.

We've always lived in residential, suburban neighborhoods. But last fall we moved to an urban area for the first time. As such, we have all sorts of complicated issues and lots of people who care deeply about said issues. After meeting some of my new neighbors last fall, I felt compelled to start attending the neighborhood association meetings.

images (1)In doing so, I became aware of a massive construction project that is going to start next week in our neighborhood. Most of the underground utilities will be replaced- gas, water, sewer, storm water drainage, etc. We're getting new sidewalks, lamp posts, parking spaces, landscaping, and street tops. The neighborhood is going to be a complete mess all summer, but once they are done it will be beautiful, and more wheelchair accessible!

In one of these meetings, I learned of a storm water treatment issue, related to the construction project, which is of concern to me. In my last job I was a manager for a storm water treatment company, so I thought I might be able to advocate for my neighborhood on this matter.

I attended a City Council workshop and addressed the Council about my concerns. Nothing has yet changed, but I haven't given up. As an unexpected result of my activism, the councilor from my district recruited me to fill an open position on the city’s Conservation Commission. That seemed like a nice way for me to scratch my civic itch, a means to contribute to my community if only in a small way.

After speaking with the chair of the Conservation Commission and attending one of their meetings, I became comfortable that the position would be neither highly stressful nor particularly time consuming. My current obligations, such as taking the best care of myself that I can while being a good husband, father, and blogger are turning out to be about as much as I can handle.

So my name was put in front of the City Council, and I was appointed to the South Portland Conservation Commission. The last step in this process was that I had to go City Hall today (which is about 500 yards from my house) and take an oath, essentially promising to do my best as a member of the commission.

I’m so pleased with my new status that I would like everyone to address me henceforth as Commissioner Sturgeon, or “The Commish” if the setting is less formal. I'm a very important man now. I’ve taken an oath.
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  1. Congrats! Next on the list, Commissioner of Baseball?

  2. Congratulations to the City of Portland, for getting YOU in its service!

  3. Commissioner Sturgeon - I am so happy that you put blogging before your civic duties.

  4. Oh my! Do we also need to bow or curtsy as we address you? [Keep in mind, you're dealing with MSers here, and such movements could result in a heap of mangled bodies at your Lordship's feet!]
    Seriously, congrats on the appointment!!
    BTW, there is a Boy Scout oath -- "On my honor, I will try to do my duty ..." I wasn't a boy scout, but I did scout boys ;->


  5. Congrats to you, poor Kim, she is going to have put up with Commissioner Sturgeon. lol