Why complain if you are part of the problem?
At a recent council meeting of a Jeff Davis Parish municipality, a woman and her young granddaughter were seated just ahead of a Jennings Daily News reporter.
The woman explained to the girl, an elementary student, who each official was in the room and what their jobs were. She told the girl that it was important for townspeople to attend such meetings to not only know what work was taking place but also to get involved in future matters.
“Have you ever heard me say if you don’t vote, you can’t complain?” she asked the girl. “It’s like that with meetings too. If you don’t go to the meetings and you don’t know what’s going on, don’t complain.”
That’s not a typical statement heard in our local public meetings, mainly because few residents regularly attend. In fact, if you attend any meeting of the Jeff Davis Parish Police Jury, School Board, or council meetings in any of our cities or towns, you will see very few locals take the initiative to educate themselves on local matters.
Voting is important but many of us are under the assumption that if we vote, our civic duty is done. Once every four years we press a few buttons and say, “I care about my community/state/country.”
The truth is, voting is the least we do as citizens. The real work comes in actually working inside your community or parish with officials and residents to address concerns. It comes in offering solutions for communities rather than sitting back and complaining about what is wrong. Let’s consider a number of citizens in Welsh: When they grew frustrated with escalating violence in the town last year, those people banded together to form Welsh Citizens Concerned for Public Safety. It’s a group of everyday people from all walks of life who simply want to shape their community into a better place. That group is now receiving assistance from District Attorney Michael Cassidy’s office to utilize the services of a crisis management group that will help identify and possibly address issues in the Town of Welsh.
Simply having a job and showing up for work does not mean you are an exceptional employee or an asset to the company; similarly, voting and showing up for a meeting once a year to complain does not mean you truly care about your community.
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