Cures for Civic Apathy

It’s the number one killer of motivation and progress in a community. It’s the most insidious enemy of creative solutions. And it puts on such an innocent face we barely recognize it, even in ourselves. Apathy. For whatever reason (and we ALL have our reasons), we just don’t care anymore. Or never did. Busy with so many other things, we fail to see any connection between our involvement within our communities and the overall quality of our daily lives. Too bad. It’s our loss. We don’t even know what we’re missing! The benefits of caringand participating far outweigh the risks.

“It is not the critic who counts… The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena… who strives valiantly… who spends himself in a worthy cause… his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” –Theodore Roosevelt

Ready to kick the apathy? I have a few suggestions.

Attend public meetings. Citizens who understand the basic functions of their government will always be better equipped to helpfind solutions for their city or town. Too often we make assumptions as to how our local governments actually work.It’s easier to complain about policies, taxes, or projectswhenour knowledge of them is sketchy or basedon hearsay. Be an active part of the goings-on. Attend some meetings, chat with some officials, and become an educated,proactive citizen.

Join a civic organization. Youwill soonfind yourself caught up in planting flowers at the park, collecting clothes for the needy, coordinating a fall festival, or fighting to protect a beautiful antique bridge slated for demolition. Apathy will be burned off by the flameof pride in a job well done, completed side-by-side with your neighbors. Never underestimate the value of those localnon-profits which foster such a sense of ownership and camaraderie within a community.

Want to REALLY rock your world? Go the full monty? Run for public office. Win or lose, it will force you into the thick of issues in your town or city. It will definitely give you a heightened sense of awareness. After many sleepless nights trying to figure out the proper placement of your next storm water project or the budget of your police department, you will appreciate the commitment and challenge of participating in government. Ideally, you will become a voice for change filtered through a healthy dose of experience.

Let’s go DO something. Apathy isn’t that much fun, anyway.