If pictures truly say a thousand words, a photo from Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson's State of the City address last week should generate enough verbiage to fill this column — and region political reform advocates — with hope.
Some of you probably saw it on Thursday's front page: Lake County Councilman Jerome Prince, a staunch Gary Democrat, in a near embrace with Portage Mayor James Snyder, an equally staunch Porter County Republican.
It all happened without the opening of fiery chasms or the planet reversing rotation.
The grip-and-grin moment carries more meaning than casual observers might surmise. It's a sign of real efforts to remove false barricades throughout our region and nation.
Snyder was honored Wednesday at Freeman-Wilson's annual State of the City address. He was toasted for his neighborly lending of Portage snowplows to help dig out Gary in last month's deluge of snow.
I previously wrote about that act — and the considerable sour flavor some Portage City Council critics of the mayor's generosity created by chastising Snyder for dedicating Portage resources to help out neighboring Gary.
On Wednesday, Snyder was rightfully greeted with applause at Gary's Genesis Center.
The ensuing photo of Prince embracing and thanking Snyder is now an icon we all should put on wooden stick signs and hold up when partisan and geographical boundaries obstruct region progress.
Snyder's decision to help a neighbor isn't the only example we can tout.
Since his election as Lake County recorder in 2012, Democrat Mike Brown has been reaching across those very same political and geographical boundaries to better the operations of his office.
Porter County Recorder Jon C. Miller, a Republican, said the younger, less politically seasoned Brown immediately began soliciting Miller's advice regarding office operations, software and other techniques two years ago.
Now the two are in regular contact, comparing notes without regard for boundaries once seen as uncrossable.
As fine as these examples are, they're obviously not enough to cure the plethora of political ills running like thick sludge through our region.
A revolving door between some Lake County elected offices and Hammond's federal criminal court hasn't stopped spinning.
Taxpayer dollars continue to disappear into wasteful patronage and corrupt political dealings leading to criminal indictments and convictions. Those ills are spawned by politicians far more interested in personal rather than regional enrichment.
So print off a few copies of the photo of Prince and Snyder. Hold them up at public meetings when partisan or intra-party squabbling takes over.
Let's mail several more to our congressional leaders, holding court in that pit of nonsensical gridlock known as Capitol Hill.
Anger at government ineptitude is getting the best of many of us these days. Just look at congressional disapproval ratings so low they're in the underground Capitol crypt, which originally was supposed to be Washington's tomb.
Examples of cooperation in our normally obstructionist region might be an antidote with far-reaching healing properties.