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October 17, 2013

MARK BENNETT: At peace in Parke County as crises countinue

Do lawmakers enjoy the noise caused by their bad behavior?

The stream merely trickles beneath Mill Creek Bridge. It’s just a few inches deep, but the water keeps moving.

I escaped to this remote corner of Parke County on the eve of its famed Covered Bridge Festival. The million-plus tourists it draws annually weren’t visible here, at least not yet. Besides, Mill Creek’s small, 106-year-old covered bridge lies off the festival’s beaten path in a county beloved for being off the world’s beaten path. It measures a modest 92 feet long, but unlike some of the county’s other 30 bridges, the Mill Creek span still handles vehicular traffic. It’s scenic and functional.

I evacuated busier civilization to experience a couple hours away from constant updates on Congress’ shutdown of the federal government. The threats, blaming, denials of accountability, disrespect and mean-spirited jabs couldn’t be heard at Mill Creek. Man’s only contribution to the sounds came in the form of a humming, distant grain dryer, and the rattle of the bridge as pickup trucks crossed over.

The drivers, mostly farmers in well-worn ballcaps, waved as they passed. Birds jabbered back and forth, walnuts tumbled in bunches from the treetops, bouncing off the bridge’s metal roof. Beetles and bees zinged around my car as I sat on the hood, punching the keys of my laptop.

You have to wonder if the senators and representatives in Washington enjoy the noise spawned by their dysfunctional behavior, or whether they’re ever at peace when not hearing the sound of their own voices. They’re human, like all of us, susceptible to intoxication by power and the presumption of being right. They can easily find a chorus of supporters, bonded through cable TV shows, talk radio and Internet blogs, urging these men and women sitting in congressional seats to “make a stand, and don’t give in.” They wouldn’t have survived the extensive wrangling, compromise and negotiation the Founding Fathers endured as they pieced together the Constitution.

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