Monday, August 06, 2007

Participating verses Watching the Game
Theresa Chaze

To help or not to help? That is the question. Whether it is nobler to step up to the plate or to step aside and allow another to take a turn at bat...It seems that in so many instances the same people play the same positions in life. There are those who actively step up to the plate to help, while others just warm the bench and comment on the game. Like the sports fan, who claims a team as his own, yet doesn't participate, own it or have any active role in the decision making process, so do the same type of people criticize how others chose to make the world a better place. Yet there are others who chose to ignore the world around them; they are too busy or otherwise engaged to notice what is happening beyond their front door.
Whether human, animal or environmental issues, there are those people who are willing to put their time, energy and resources into speaking out and attempting to make positive changes. They get involved by writing letters, contacting governmental leaders, or physically demonstrating. Whether picking up trash along the side of the road or marching on the capital, they are willing to put themselves on the line for their cause, because they aren’t willing to be by-standers in the world. These people care what happens to others and to the world around them. They enthusiastically embrace change and continually look outside the box for new possibilities or options that will make the world a better place. Whether living green, animal rights or energy alternatives, these people work towards changing the how and why things are done for the betterment of all instead of a select few. These are the people who took time out of their lives to search for victims of Katrina. The same type that marched for peace. These people work with the environment by recycling and looking for responsible ways to live their lives. No one asked. It wasn’t legislated. They saw a need they could meet and weren‘t afraid of getting their hands dirty.
Yet on the opposite spectrum, there are those they are so attached to the status quo they reject all change. They criticize the individuals who do seek innovative answers, yet they refuse to offer alternatives to the challenges our country now are facing. Like the armchair quarterback, they attack the participants and their actions, but never really address the causes. By belittling the people, they down play the importance of the issue and make the individual the center of attention. To protect the status quo, they nit-pick the minor details in order to find fault with the person, yet ignore the validity of the issue. Like those who blame the high gas prices on the environmentalists and the politicians for refusing to allow drilling in ecologically sensitive areas, yet refuse to see how their own driving habits and the lack of development of alternative fuels have contributed to the situation. They complain about the actions of others, however they do little themselves to make it better.
There are others who do neither. They live cloistered existences, filled only with their own needs and wants. They do not get involved, nor do they commit. The world outside their little ponds simple does not exist. Some believe they can’t make a difference, so they don’t even try. It is their apathy that has lead to low voter participation and the extremes being brought to power. Others just chose not to be informed. They don’t take the time away from the fun of their life to read a paper or to watch the news. In some extreme cases, they don’t know who the leaders of the country are or the basic structure of the government. When confront with their ignorance, they defend themselves with anger or rebellion. They don’t realize that the only true ones they are cheating are themselves by giving away the rights and power that every individual in entitled.
But what would happen if the more nobler people became so burned out that they stopped stepping up to the plate? Would the game stop? Would the others start participating? Or would the status quo spiral out of control sending the county into stagnation and eventual death? How do you motivate people to get involved? You can’t force them--at least not without getting negative results. Integrating the schools proved that. The cultures were mixed, yet bigotry still continues. There are no quick fixes--no magic tricks or impassioned speeches, which will change the heart of another. The truth is you can only change yourself. As individual, we can only do the best we can and no more beyond. The magic happens when people of like mind find each other and share enough of themselves to make miracles happen.

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