Psychiatrist Sheldon Kopp in his 1971 book “Guru: Memoirs of a Psychotherapist” advanced the insight that people’s character was defined by the problems they have.

Great people had big problems that benefited society while most of us have regular run-of-the mill problems.

His best idea, though, was that the solution to any problem soon becomes the next problem. Anyone who ever wanted children then got them, can appreciate the wisdom of Kopp’s insight.

I think Kopp was covertly studying Galveston. If this city were his patient, it would surely qualify as a borderline personality disorder.

Case in point: We live on a hurricane vulnerable island. That’s a problem.

The solution is a coastal spine designed by the folks who know how to build such things.

A solution? Not quite.

According to a few pontificators and our chamber of commerce, a north side levee is a problem for our ambiance and for the cruise business. (The cruise business itself was a solution to a problem at one time and remains a slow-burn stick of dynamite until the day the ships sail away to another port — but that’s a topic for future commentaries.) For now, the very people who promoted the spine as a solution are now hysterical about it being a problem.

Same thing with beach maintenance. The park board was invented to resolve our economic problems through tourism and advertise Galveston’s benefits. In the 1950s and ’60s our economy was a problem. The last few years’ numbers suggest the park board is doing a remarkable job. Part of their mission is to preserve our beaches and between the park board’s cleaning and sand restoration, we seem to have the problem solved.

Nope. Ask any absentee landlord owner of beach-front short-term rentals, and they will tell you the park board is the problem. Between their ridiculous insistence on implementing city law by picking up tents left overnight and complying with the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers’ beach preservation cleaning rules, they’re now the problem in leasing two-day stays at exorbitant prices. It seems renters expect their personal junk to remain on bulldozer-scraped eroding beaches if their stay is to be pleasurable.

The University of Texas Medical Branch has been here as long as there’s been a university in Texas. Might any of their professionals recommend a medication that can be released into the water supply to mitigate our collective symptoms?

We do have an election next year and perhaps we’ll vote sanity over tantrum, reject histrionics in favor of science and select people who conduct our affairs with the welfare of the folks who actually live here on their mind. If we don’t, we might as well sit in a corner, slowly rock back and forth and suck our thumb. I’ll vote for any candidate who demonstrates reason regarding managing our social and economic portfolio of island treasures.

Of course, if Kopp is right, being rational will become the next problem I guess. But for a while, rational would be refreshing.

Bill Broussard lives in Galveston.

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(2) comments

Jim Casey

Galveston is like a Rubik's cube made of cheese. You can't change anything without moving someone's cheese, and they complain about it.

Wayne Holt

Very entertaining commentary on what can be painful truths, at times. It starts with the acceptance that we can't have all the cheese but neither does someone else deserve it all. To mix metaphors, let's grow a bigger cheese and share it.

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