I often read and hear people complaining about the state of our communities, our state and, especially, our nation.
Whether it's the location of a festival, the traffic patterns following a parade, the process of clearing the roads following a heavy snowstorm or the amount of funding provided by our various governmental levels to a local program or organization, it seems someone will always have a complaint.
As Americans, we have the right to voice our opinions on topics, no matter how popular those opinions may be. That, of course, also means those who don't agree with our thoughts have the same right to express their opinions.
The key to all of that comes down to making sure we are backed up by facts when expressing those opinions.
We may not always agree with what a member of a local city council says, or the decision by a group to move forward with a particular project. We might not like that certain streets seem to get paved or plowed before others.
But while complaining about all of those things, how many of us have actually taken the time to reach out to those involved and learn why the decisions were made?
How many of you have attended a city council meeting to express your concerns? How many of you contact your councilman or local state representative?
How many have stepped up to assist with the planning of a local festival, parade or other community event?
I know we're all busy. We all have other things we need to do when it comes to work and home life and it's difficult to find time for anything extra. At the same time, it's easy to sit back and complain because we don't like how events have been planned by those who have managed to find the time to give back to their communities.
Nothing will get changed in any situation unless people are willing to learn exactly what is going on and then become involved in some way.
I have seen many programs and even organizations disappear in our area because of a lack of involvement.
I've also been to council meetings where only two residents were in attendance while important decisions were being made.
I've seen election ballots with only a couple of challengers stepping up against incumbents, all the while people complain that things are staying the same.
If you truly believe the people in charge of our local, state or even national are doing such a terrible job, step up and become part of the process.
Run for office. Find out what is involved in actually operating a government and then find ways to provide a solution.
See what ways you can volunteer with groups to provide new programs or events in the community.
Or get involved with the groups that already put together some of these events and offer some suggestions on how they can change.
Call your councilman, or attend a council meeting, or a commission meeting, or some other governmental meeting, and explain to them why you are upset about the job they are doing. Tell them what you would like to see happen and why you think it is better.
You never know what you might find out. Perhaps the people you have been blaming all this time have no control over the issue, or perhaps they have little choice in why something is done a certain way.
We all have to be the change we want to happen.
Nothing can grow without new methods, new ideas and new people, and that includes a community.
Learn about the processes involved. Learn why things have been done a certain way and what other options might be available.
Who knows? You might just be the one to find that new solution.
Don't just sit at a keyboard and rant on the Internet.
Nothing gets resolved by simply complaining about something. In order for problem to be fixed, it often takes an effort by people getting involved and working toward it.
(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)