Tuesday, May 27, 2014

More Action, Less Talk

The story of local volunteers banding together to help Mr. John Berry is heartwarming and inspirational.  The World War II veteran was found to be living in substandard conditions.  Upon learning about this, members of the community sprang into action to help the elderly gentleman.  Last I heard was that Habitat For Humanity was going to build Mr. Berry a home.  Excellent.

This story has so many layers, but I want to focus on the fact that Mr. Berry is a veteran, and fellow veterans and non-veterans are helping him out.  Those employing some elbow grease in this matter are showing us how to physically thank veterans, instead of just repeating some tired slogan like 'support our troops.'  We can all say 'we thank you for your service,' like politicians are prone to doing, but a select few in Laredo have gone above and beyond to see that one veteran gets his due.

Yesterday was Memorial Day so (almost) everybody on social media was saluting members of the military, past and present.  Today we have the runoff election for those who competed in the March primary but didn't quite get a majority of the vote.  A handful of people have been encouraging friends and family to get out the vote.  A good thing about the last two days is that the uplifting, religious social media posts have been kept at a minimum.  Instead we've been bombarded with rote expressions: two that I mentioned above, and the ever-present election day saying, 'if you don't vote, you can't complain.'

That last phrase makes me cringe because the majority of those who do vote only go on to complain, but never take any action apart from filling in a ballot bubble to change things for the better.  Or even worse, they vote and then totally disengage from local political happenings.  People who harp about the importance of voting need to have the same enthusiasm carry over until the next election cycle by contacting their local representatives, or actually going to city hall or commissioners court to voices their concerns.

We need to be like those volunteer veterans helping Mr. Berry, or the group VIDA, or those who spoke out for the plastic bag ban -- people sticking their neck out to try to make a difference.  Like a friend said during a recent neighborhood clean-up, 'mas accion, menos platica,' or something like that.  He was being facetious, I think, but that statement sums up what needs to happen here, both with veterans affairs and the political system.

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