Friday, May 18, 2007

If You See Something. . .

. . .Get Up Off Your Butt And Do Something About It!

Community activism, however varied the meanings and perspectives, requires more than just a silent nod or the backgound din of a frustrated grumble. It requires, um, activisim.

"Activism." Defined by Webster's as "a doctrine or practice that emphasizes direct vigorous action especially in support of or opposition to one side of a controversial issue."

Yes, there is a certain level of activism in American society today -- somewhat less on the more politically conservative Long Island -- but face it, the 60s its not.

Sure, we complain among our small circle of friends and family, and, every once in a while, we actually get out there -- to a community forum, to a meeting at Town Hall, or to a voting booth (if its not too inconvenient) -- but, for the most part, even when we see something disturbing in our own communities (and we're talking about quality of life issues here, not Al Queada terror cells), rather than to actually do something, we're content to just sit there and take it.

"Oh, you can't fight Town Hall," they'll tell you. Damn well you can!

No one said the fight would be easy, or the war less than protracted against an enemy so entrenched and disinterested in the well-being of your hometown. Still, the fight is yours -- not theirs -- to be won or lost.

Maybe its easier to moan and groan about the evils that befall community, rather than to muster the strength to do something about it. After all, we've got other, more pressing matters to deal with -- or so the talking heads remind us on a daily basis.

Natalie Holloway is still missing (bless Nancy Grace and Gretta Van Sustren for reminding us of that each and every evening). Four year old Madeleine McCann, left in a hotel room by her parents while vacationing in Portugal, is still missing. Come to think of it, that Osama Bin Laden fella is still missing. Have we looked for him in Aruba or the Algarve?

We really have no time to debate such mundane matters as skyrocketing property taxes, illegal accessory apartments, the disappearance of affordable housing, and the high cost of education.

No, more important that we chime in on whether a runner, Oscar Pistorius, who happens to be a double amputee, should be permitted to compete in the Olympics, running on prosthetic legs. Yeah, the guy's got to run on artificial limbs, and the International Olympic Committee, considering a ban on such competition, calls that an unfair advantage. Now there's the Olympic spirit!

Or it could be that, in the wake of the news that the Reverend Jerry Falwell, founder of the Immoral Majority -- you know, the guy who blamed 9/11 on the feminists, the gays, and the Teletubbies -- has been called home to God (and not a moment too soon). We're in mourning. You want us to stand up, get out there, and protest something?

Yes, we want you to stand up, get out there, and protest something. Anything, for that matter.

Get out there and protest the government's policy of rendition. Get out there and protest native Indian "nations" not paying millions of dollars in taxes on the cigarettes they sell to the public. Get out there and protest the fact that you pay twice as much for garbage collection as your neighbor across the street.

And if you can't -- or simply won't -- get out there to DO SOMETHING, then, for community's sake, at least take the opportunity (no, make the opportunity) to SAY SOMETHING.

Write a letter. Send an e-mail. Pen a Guest Blog. SOMETHING.

Let those who represent you -- in Washington, in Albany, at the County Seat, and in town and village hall -- know exactly how you feel (and, hopefully, how you will vote come November) on the issues, great and small, that impact upon your quality of life.

Yes, if you see someting in your community that disturbs you -- or ought to -- say something. You can be darn sure that we will!

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