We call them Freaks on the Street.
I suppose that is the official newspaper term. It is when the paper collects photos of some poor unsuspecting people and have them comment on whatever mindless question of the day the reporters are forced to ask.
The only time I had to do such a thing was when I was dispatched with a photographer to the Auburn Mall years ago to get a "Freaks on the Street" spread on the hiring of a new UMaine hockey coach.
I searched out anybody that looked like they knew something about hockey or UMaine and asked the question and hoped to get some sort of an intelligent answer. I don't even recall whether I did or not.
The Freaks on the Street spread I saw recently was about school budgets. The question posed was whether these people had voted. The answers were a bit discouraging.
One guy said he had not voted because "they're all full of bull". I don't know who the "they" were and I don't know what that had to do whether he voted or not.
Another person said they had intended to vote but had not gotten around to it. Well, at least they intended to do their civic duty. That counts right?
Another person, and there were only five or six, said something disparaging as well as to why they had not bothered to vote.
Now I know school budgets and the items that have been up for vote in recent weeks aren't the presidential election and don't have high-profile status of some major election, but don't these votes have an even greater impact on these people's lives at the local level?
I know a lot of people who are effected by these budgets. I know school administrators, teachers, students and coaches. All of them have a stake in the outcome. Parents and taxpayers are effected as well.
Yet people can't be civic minded enough to vote for something that impacts their own community and likely people they know.
It's kind of like the old saying "People complain about the weather, but nobody does anything about it."
We've become a world of bitching and moaning. It's easier to lay blame than take responsibility. Why try and change things when standing idly by and griping about it does so well - not.
I see it in our politics. I see it in the workplace. I see it regardless of where I go each day. People can always talk about what is wrong about something and who is to blame. Yet they offer few solutions or suggestions as to who might make such change. And they're certainly not stepping up to volunteer.
We've let the zealots take over society. We have the right wing, Bible thumpers and left leaning tree huggers. That's how they're stereotyped and everything falls into one camp or the other. We've become polarized by these two ends of the spectrum, where the other is to blame and nobody takes responsibility. It has trickled down from the politics of our highest office to our everyday conversations, where if you don't agree with me, you're wrong and also an idiot.
We're dividing ourselves because of our disagreements. We stand upon our soapboxes and tout our respective ideology while demonizing anyone that disagrees. Meanwhile, what is truly important and what is right gets lost in all the white noise and posturing.
Where is our common ground? Where is our commitment to do what is right? Where is our determination to make a stand? Why do we let our laziness dictate instead of allowing our knowledge to empower?
It is easy to wash our hands of the frustrating discourse. It is tempting to toss up our hands in despair and assume there's little we can do about it. I'm a political junkie of sorts and even I'm tired of it all.
Public service isn't serving the public. As a result, our commitment to civic duties suffer. It is easiest to just ignore and do nothing and hope it goes away. Or we assume nothing can be done. We're let to just bitch and moan and blame. We've become too tolerant of our intolerance.
There is always something that can be done. Maybe it starts with something as simple as utilizing your right to vote. Maybe it is change an attitude from powerless to powerful.
We the people have a power. With that power can come the change. But nothing changes when all we do is complain and blame.Surrendering your power only leaves one weak. Inaction doesn't lead to action. People need to realize that to make change around us, we must make change within us. When that is realized, maybe they do something instead of doing nothing.