Local Commentary

Editorial: Falls Church, a Civic Incubator

With everything that’s in the works for the Northern Virginia region now, not the least of which are the realistic prospects for the location of two mega-corporate headquarters here — the second headquarters for Amazon and Apple — and the prospect of upwards of 70,000 new jobs they would bring. To the extent that each job includes a household to go with it, a spouse, 1.6 children and two pets, we’re talking over 200,000 new people right there, much less all the growth of subsidiary and tertiary businesses and industries.

It’s really quite remarkable that in the midst of all this potential, which will continue to be here even if Bezos and Cook choose to settle elsewhere, the mighty City of Falls Church sits so well poised to make such an important difference.

First of all, we will offer that given such dense and intense development, the single most important ingredient needed is humanization. We need, as a human species almost magically gifted with this lovely planet, to reify our human qualities, the ones that got us this far, albeit through uneven pathways. Human nature is neither entirely good nor bad. The direction it takes depends on the effective initiatives of good, smart and take-charge folks, just like it does with the nurturing of children.

Ironically enough, what the Little City lacks in mass, it makes up for with perhaps the single most decisive quality for determining our species’ fate, especially as we’ve been handed the gift of a functioning democracy as we have. That quality is something people are contending about more and more these days, and it goes by the name of civility.

With all the emphasis on STEM education in our public schools – science, technology, engineering and math – it can be credibly argued that the most important subject in school is civics. Yes, boring old civics. Whether students raised in the post-World War II era were aware of it or not, the class, best taught at the high school level, which made us all into active and intelligent participants in our democracy and national discourse was undoubtedly civics.

Here is where we learned about how a democratic government works, and of its indispensable role in advancing justice and fairness and wisdom.
Somehow, in the last 50 years, government has increasingly become a bad word in America. The government, the “deep state,” as its detractors insist, has become the enemy of the people, not its liberator, not the tool of its progress and salvation.

But it’s in an incubator of democracy, in a place of educated, civic activists like Falls Church, where the blessings of democracy are on display almost daily. Here, we exercise our right to vote, routinely at a higher rate than any other jurisdiction in the state, we run for office, we volunteer to serve on advisory boards and commissions, we frequently have referenda, and we enjoy the benefits of a vibrant free press.