01 Jan 2007
Civics 101 - Ranting
Ranting, raving, venting, dialogue. Call it what you want - it is our national pastime. Unfortunately, it seems we live in a country so bent on proving a point or hammering an idea into somebody else's head that we've forgotten all about listening to informed perspectives that could broaden our understanding.
At the local level of government citizens who don't know how taxes work will go to the City or Town Hall and complain that they have to pay taxes at all, or that they pay more than their fair share. Citizens who don't know how housing or commercial development works will go to the City or Town Hall and complain that they don't want a house built next to the house they themselves just built. People complain rather than ask clarifying questions. In this way people demonstrate that they are actually intent on not learning anything from those most able to help them!
I am NOT saying that I expect everyone to know everything. I AM saying that we should all try to be comprehensive in our understanding of why things are the way they are. If something confuses you, go ahead and vent. No one wants to take away the national pastime from you! Say it with me:
"Such and such SHOULD BE THIS WAY!!!"
In fact, if you want to go no further than this, I'm fine with that. We don't have time or the means to learn about every little thing. But be prepared to have your "should" questioned. And if it is, then ask yourself and someone involved in the process, "Why IS it the way it is?" and listen for the answer. Temper your assumptions in order to learn the process from those actually involved in assessing taxes or land development; then you'll learn how to make the changes you think ought to be made.
Normally you'll find a logical reason for why something is the way it is, and often this reason is based on the fact that we have a representative democracy in which people who do not agree on things have to work together toward some solution.
Let's improve the national pastime. Let's marry ranting and listening so that real understanding can be achieved.