Wednesday, June 03, 2009

There Are Those Who Do. . .

And Those Who Complain About Those Who Do!

We've always said that community is not a spectator sport.

Robert McMillan, a community advocate and activist of many years, pens a piece for the Anton News publications that says just that -- You can just stay home and complain, or you can get out there on the front lines of community and make some noise.

We're republishing Bob's commentary. [Hopefully, we won't get sued.]

Read it -- twice. Then, get out there and make a difference. As Woody Allen once said, "80% of life is just showing up!"
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Complain and Stay at Home
By Robert McMillan

Today, there is a great deal to complain about! From the economy to loss of jobs and from high real estate taxes to LIRR fares. The question, about these issues and so many other challenges in today’s society, is what do you do about them?

With television, the Internet and emails, it is easy to complain and stay at home. Thirty years ago, more people were attending meetings at every level. Whatever your political party, Republican and Democratic clubs had high attendance. Now, even with important speakers, few people take the time to participate. They would rather stay at home and complain.

The same applies to civic groups and even participation at local government hearings on matters of importance to all residents of our communities. People would rather stay at home in the evening and not show up. They just complain.

The challenge is that when we just become a “couch potato” or “desk junky,” that leaves the decisions to just a few. It is my strong opinion that life is really all about showing up. In fact, “showing up” is what it is all about. We do not ignore family events. But, it is easy to gloss over what is going on in the world around us if we can focus on the TV set or the computer.

When I am out speaking to a local organization, I will get complaints about different issues from many in the audience. At some point during the Q&A session, I will stop and ask this question. “First, please do not raise your hand in response to this question. Just think about your answer. For those of you complaining about a government issue, have you ever attended a political club meeting, written to your local elected representative or participated in a committee dealing with a local community issue?”

When I ask that question, the silence and facial expressions are always the same. Clearly to me, the complainers only complain. They do nothing to correct what is wrong.

All of this leads me back to the question about where to show up? With so many options, how do we determine where to participate? I would look at it in two ways. First, what issue do you feel is the most important. That is one place to start. The second consideration is where do you feel your background could make the greatest contribution? After considering all of this, please try to show up somewhere and help your community.

Finally, the most important place to “show up” is at home with your spouse, children and grandchildren. When all the issues are examined our families should remain at the top.

Robert McMillan is Of Counsel with Bee Ready Fishbein Hatter & Donovan, LLP. Email:

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