By Emily Stonehouse

We’ve all seen them. 

Those word searches, plastered on the screens of social media, running rampant this time of year with promises that the first three words you spot will be the fortune for the year. 

“Gratitude”. “Love”. “Money.” 

As I was mindlessly scrolling one day (a habit I do actually hope to throw out with the 2023 bathwater), I came across one such puzzle. As my eyes began to focus on the jumble of promises, one word stood out above the rest: transparency. 

I thought about this word. What it means. Where it came from. How it can be applied to my day to day. 

Transparency was a Minden buzzword of 2023; mostly in light of the Emergency Room closure in June this past year. Suddenly, this word became all the rage. It went from being a term that hadn’t graced the tongues of the average Joes and Janes, to a basic human right; something worth fighting for, worth exploring, worth demanding. 

When things happen behind closed doors, we feel left out. That’s why we fight so hard to be let back in; to have a voice at the table, to not miss a single beat. 

In reality, there are countless items we are left out of on a daily basis. Decisions happening at every political level, from municipal to federal and everything in between. During my brief stint working for our own local government, I can recall countless occasions where we closed those doors. Situations where we made decisions, and actively made the choice to not involve the public; even if the decisions directly impacted them in some capacity. 

HHHS staying quiet and lacking transparency was one issue, but when county council made the choice to shutter its doors to converse about the closure in greater detail, that’s a whole other thing. 

Suddenly, the hill that so many of our local politicians waved flags on with re-opening the ER was eroded. The trust we put in our representatives to stand their ground had crumbled. That transparency that elected officials had been seeking from HHHS became moot, as the roles were reversed, and they chose to close their own doors, stooping to the same level as those they were trying to chastise. 

And truthfully, I am sure they had their reasons. It was a time of floundering and flummoxing. No one really knew how to tread, and there was truly no path of least resistance. This goes for both county council, and HHHS. I recognize that hands were tied in the process, and am aware of the fact that the public really only recognizes and understands the tip of the iceberg. 

But it’s what was floating under the iceberg that sank the world’s largest ship. 

Seeking that transparency is human nature. The desire to be given a space at the table is a part of our biology. 

But I would encourage the fine folks of Minden to seek this transparency in more ways than one. Yes, the ER closure impacted us all, but in my time here, it was one of the first instances that I’ve seen the public get worked up about a decision being made behind closed doors. These decisions are made regularly, and impact everything from snow removal to staffing. 

If you have a thought, if you want to know more, if you desire to have a seat at that table, then fight for it. Because transparency isn’t just a buzzword, it’s a right. Something worth fighting for, worth exploring, worth demanding. 

And it shouldn’t take a New Year’s word search to spark that flame.