Round Lake Library Storm: There is Some Justice

As this blog’s title proclaims, I’m an optimist; while being rational requires recognizing how dumb even smart people sometimes can act.

Recently, faced with a bad storm warning, the Round Lake library was closed 40 minutes early by employee Theresa Marchione. The library’s director felt she should have been consulted. So she fired Marchione. Fired her!

FishCartoonMarchione had worked there 24 years and was popular with patrons. (Also happens to be sister-in-law of a state senator.)

Round Lake library board meeting

Round Lake library board meeting

“How stupid can people be?” I said to my wife, showing her the news report – which obviously echoed an episode two decades before, when she worked at an Albany library. During a blizzard some librarians decided to close a branch early. The director took disciplinary action against them, provoking a huge uproar – and turbocharging a union movement among Albany library employees. One thing led to another, and ultimately the director’s firing.

Norman Rockwell, "Freedom of Speech"

Norman Rockwell, “Freedom of Speech”*

In Round Lake, the director (perhaps she had forgotten the Albany affair) was more swiftly fired; indeed, the whole library board was made to resign basically because they didn’t fire her fast enough. Marchione was reinstated.

So, yes, we see that people are capable of stupid and unjust actions. But while life can be thusly unfair, it isn’t always, and as Martin Luther King said, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” In Round Lake the arc was short, the denouement actually predictable. And I do believe we are living in a world of increasing justice.

* The library meeting photo reminded me of this, one of my favorite paintings, which captures so eloquently something so good and so important about this country I so love.

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