I have a friend who argues that the smaller an airline is, the more the flight attendants tend to talk — before and during the flight.  He suggests this isn’t simply about the size of the operation, but more a reflection of some variation on an inferiority complex.

If you spend much time flying, you’ve probably seen it.  The greetings, warnings, lists of regulations, and sometimes even general flight narrative begin almost before you’re seated and seem endless.  My friend’s point, only half-tongue-in-cheek, is that the more the operation wrestles with a feeling of inferiority, the more chatter passengers are forced to endure.  “We know all the jargon.  These are real planes…with exits, colorful emergency lights and even refreshments!”

My friend is, to a certain degree, joking of course.  But the principle is applicable in various venues.  Witness the blather spewed from virtually every corner of the United States political arena at the moment.

Another friend, when contemplating the longer-than-the-average-citizen-can-imagine vacation season enjoyed by those who work (presumably for us) on Capital Hill, says “at least for a few weeks we can rest easy.  Freedom is safe from their votes.”

Too bad television cameras and microphones are still accessible — vacation or not.

Half an ear to the marketplace today makes it clear that few believe it will ever happen; but amid a credit rating downgrade and a 500-point drop on Wall Street, one can’t help wonder what things might look like if those to whom we’ve entrusted the republic lost access to the cameras and microphones.  Unable to posture and ponder the next soundbite, might they focus on their job?

But in that our influence over those we’ve sent to Washington seems minimal, a bit of introspection seems in order.  When will we, as constituents, take responsibility?  When will we let those who work for us know that what they do speaks so loudly we cannot hear (and no longer care) what they say?

When will we finally reject all the noise — without respect to party or professed ideology, and no matter how eloquent?  When will we acknowledge that each time we vote based solely on soundbites, narrow agendas, and promises that we know cannot be kept, we perpetuate what we are experiencing today?

And, as long as we’re dealing with real questions, when will we get off the couch and engage in the process before it is time to bemoan the broken system?

Isn’t it time for something more than talk?  Have we any quiet, wise leaders in our midst?  And would we allow them to lead?