I am one who will quickly tell you that if you do not vote, then you do not have the right to complain about politics. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion and mine is that if you can't take the time to spend a few moments of your day marking in some bubbles on a piece of paper you have lost your right to bemoan how government policies are ruining everything.
I also have a hard time with people who want to gripe and complain about what is going on in their community yet do nothing to actually get involved. Case in point, the Downtown Plan, which has caused an uproar all through our community and divided us for months with people forming a lynch mob mentality on our local Facebook group pages. Yet where are these people when they have the chance to make their voices heard? Nowhere to be seen. It is unfortunate too, because as I wrote in another article this week the latest hearing on the project brought forth a very productive conversation amongst the few people that attended and helped clear up misconceptions on both sides of the matter.
It isn't just this topic that people don't show up for either. I spend a lot of my time in city and county meetings and most of the time I am one of only a handful of people that are there who aren't part of the board or staff.
The Cat Creek Energy Project is another example of something people are very quick to complain about, but don't take the time to attend the meetings. While those meetings do pull in a bigger crowd then most do, I can tell you with at least 90 percent accuracy the names and faces of each person who will be in attendance, because they are the same ones each time. There have been times when the commissioners have even changed the normal meeting times and moved the events to a bigger venue, but the crowds do not show.
People always complain in this town about how there is nothing to do or complain about the way events here are organized and ran. Yet none of the people who voice these complaints are involved in the planning process of anything that goes on here. We have some great events in this community and a core group of people who are wonderful volunteers, but the problem is it's the same small group of people who have to step up and organize and run all of the different events that go on in this town. Most organizations and committees are made up of all the same people who give continuously of their free time and thank goodness for them because where would our community be without them.
I try to be as involved as I can, but I spend so much of my time covering these different events and meetings for the newspaper that I don't have much time to be able to participate in them. Plus there is also a certain amount of space I feel I need to keep between myself and the hands on participation that is needed in some of these matters due to me needing to be unbiased as a reporter in the community. I try to do my part by getting the word out on what is going on and where help is needed instead. I also try to volunteer my time in matters where me being involved isn't going to make me appear as biased in my job.
This isn't just a Mountain Home issue either this is a larger problem. Look at our ballots we filled out, if we took the time to vote, last Tuesday and all of the uncontested races. Now I don't have a problem with a lot of the people who ran unopposed, I feel like most of them have and will do a great job. What I do have a problem with is the fact that so many people complain about what is or isn't getting done by our government yet do nothing to change anything. I personally feel that no candidate should ever run in an uncontested race. I realize that in those races it was usually Republicans who ran and we are definitely a red state, but no one says you have to run as a Democrat to run against them. Our government is set up to allow for independents and third parties to run for office.
If you don't like what a representative, commissioner, councilmen etc. is doing in office then step up and declare your candidacy. If you don't want to run then find someone you think would do a good job, have a conversation with them about running and then offer to help them with their campaign.
The same goes with community events. You don't like how something is done at Crazee Dayz, Fall Harvest Festival or Air Force Appreciation Day? Then join the committees, in fact the Chamber even holds an events meeting every year that the public is invited to attend where they just brain storm event ideas. The same goes for your children's schools, join the parent organization if you want to see something changed in the yearly fundraiser or monthly spirit day.
But most of all if you aren't going to step up and find a way to get more involved in these processes don't take to Facebook to raise a stink and start a big uproar. If you are not willing to take the time to become involved to make this community, county, state, region or nation a better place for us and for future generations don't sit behind your screen and attack the people who actually care enough to try. They may not do things perfectly, they all make mistakes because, guess what, they are human! But mistakes, failed ideas and all at least they are trying. At least they aren't just "talking the talk" they are actually "walking the walk" and doing what they can to make all of our lives a little better.
To all of the people who do spend all of their free time going from one organization or planning meeting to the other: thank you, thank you for what you do for your family and mine, what you do for this community and what you do in our little piece of the earth to make this world a better place.