“Politics should not be merely a spectator sport.”
— Lyndon Johnson
I did not set out to become an activist. It just sort of happened. I was shy as a child, or so they tell me.
I know my poor mother just walks around in a perpetual state of head-shaking wonder that the child she had to pry from her leg with a crowbar and coax to even LOOK at someone — let alone remove my finger from my mouth long enough to actually speak — has grown up to be one of those interminable types who NEVER SHUTS UP.
I do not, as a rule, harbor strongly held opinions about anything anyone with any sense would care all that much about. Really, I’m a slacker.
Yet, somehow, I keep ending up at a variety of public forums talking about this, that, or the other thing, often having been elected (over my protests) as the “spokesperson” for the group.
This fact alone should assure you that society, as a whole, will let just about anyone hold forth their opinion. This, of course, is exactly what our founding fathers had in mind when they concocted the whole “freedom of speech” thing, but I dare say that had they met me back in the day, they may have rethought the process.
Nonetheless, I’m an American, it’s my right, and more important, I’m appalled at how many of my fellow Americans don’t exercise this right at all.
Let there be a project, concern, or unattended pothole at the local or regional level and I am all over that sucker. Someone tells me about something that concerns them and before too long, being highly suggestionable, it concerns me, too.
Almost immediately I feel that “someone” should “do something.” I’ve found that feeling is prevalent among people.
“Someone” or better yet, “somebody” should “do something!” Preferably yesterday.
This is how I end up with an agenda and ON the agenda of virtually every organization known to mankind. Also why my name ends up in print as an attendee at some public forum or another almost as often as I appear under my own byline.
It is a testament to the overwhelming kindness of journalists that I am referred to in most of these articles as a “concerned mother” and not, as a rule, as “ceaseless busybody.” The latter, perhaps, being more fitting.
It has often been said that you can’t fight city hall. I agree. You can’t fight them from the armchair in your living room. Put yourself front and center at their monthly meetings, however, and your concerns suddenly carry some weight.
In fact, I showed up so often at the local government meetings that I talked myself right into a job. I was just there to figure out how to get some junk removed from in front of my house and the next thing I knew, I was on the payroll.
It turns out that if you spend an inordinate amount of time telling someone how you could do it better, they might just take you up on it.
Newsflash: You, me, WE are “the government.” We are also public education, “the league” and “they” (as in “they never do anything about that.”)
You say you don’t understand how they run your child’s sports league? Go to a meeting and ask. You have an issue with how your local municipality spends your tax dollars or an issue with the services they do (or don’t) provide? Did you TELL them?
Let me assure you that all the complaining you do over coffee might make you feel better, but it won’t change a thing unless you happen to be having coffee with the mayor.
It is often said that “somebody” should “really do something” about virtually everything in our lives and times, from the high cost of living to our schools, communities, civic groups and the very world we live in. Somebody really should.
The truth is that unless we show up, share an opinion, listen to the answers and get involved in something beyond who fared best on last night’s American Idol , we deserve to get exactly what we put in — nothing.
If you feel strongly about something, or simply need answers, then it’s time for you to show up, stand up, speak up. It’s time for you to be somebody.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt urges you to attend a local meeting of something today. She welcomes comments c/o email@example.com; P.O. Box 38, Salem, OH 44460; and visits to her online home http://kymberly.typepad.com/life for photos and fun facts about nothing.)
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