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Friday, June 20, 2008

Fixing Our Communities

Connie Castanera

Everyone seems to have their own ideas and suggestions for making the community they live in, a better community. One only needs to gather with several others in a group, and bring up the topic of what we can all do to improve life in our communities and neighborhoods, to realize that we can all come up with viable suggestions. But, in that same group, how many of those are actually willing to inspire and enroll others to turn those suggestions into actions that benefit others? Ultimately, when we help others, we help ourselves on many levels.

We seem to be very adept at identifying the problems, and even coming up with solutions, but too many of us don't take the extra steps or go the extra mile to implement those solutions or join others that are working on solutions. Why? I believe the answer is a combination of apathy and lack of self-confidence. I'm afraid that there are too many of us that expect others to do something about problems that affect all of us. They want problems and issues to be resolved without having to get involved, and do what is required, themselves.

Lack of self-confidence is a sad reality for many people. Many individuals seem to lack the confidence in their own skills and ability to make a difference or contribution in their community. They may even be afraid to get involved for fear of "ruffling some feathers," or upsetting those that oppose them. It is much too common for individuals to settle in their comfort zones and do nothing. After all, it is easier to do nothing. But, is it easier? It may appear to be easier, but in the long run we pay dearly.

Apathy is not only a sad reality as well, it is dangerous. When we don't care enough to speak our minds and get involved, others are able to control us, manipulate us, and take advantage of us. Before we know it, others are able to usurp our rights, and to do it in a way that leaves us virtually blindsided. Think about the myriad of changes in your community, neighborhood, school, or even workplace that you are not happy about. Do you remember when things changed? Were you involved in the process? Was your voice heard? If so, did you feel empowered by making your voice heard?

I'm not suggesting that when you get involved, everything will always go your way, because it may not. However, you must never underestimate the power of your voice and your opinion. Many unwanted changes have been made, that affect us all, when no one showed up to oppose the decisions made, or when votes were taken. It appears to be easier to do nothing, but depending on what is at stake, it is easier to become part of the solution. To complain and do nothing is part of the problem.

Being part of the solution takes effort, time, research, meeting with others, speaking your mind. You may not have to do it all but your participation, at any level, is valuable to making a positive difference. You don't have to be a politician to change your community. As taxpayers and stakeholders, we can have far more power than we realize or give ourselves credit for.

I urge you to look around your neighborhood or community, and to find areas that are in need of improvement and get involved on whatever level you can comfortably participate. Everyone has a skill or talent that can be useful to others. Give of yourself willingly and as generously as you can. The feeling of empowerment, when you effect positive change, is un-matched.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Apathy is bad and dangerous... It is great to get involved in the community and to work with others to attain common goals and to work toward a common vision. As for the feather ruffling, sometimes they need to be ruffled, sometimes they need to be plucked.