They Oughta…
Off The Wall, April 23, 2010

Not long ago, I was riding with a motorist on the way to a doctor’s appointment. He started off by telling me about his aches and pains. It didn’t take long for him to share the last eight years of the Bush administration.

When I know I’m up against a wall with things I particularly didn’t have a thing to do with, I tell people, “I’m sorry, but I don’t know enough on the subject to speak intelligently about it.” That bit of phrasing usually shuts down the person firing bullets in my direction. I like to use the word “usually,” because that infers that there is an automatic curtailing of verbosity.

Yes, momentary, the gent toned down his accusations. But, I felt as though I was in a racecar that just stopped to refuel. Minutes later, we were back on the track, and he was trying to make a point on how fabulous the Obama administration was.

Instead of using my opening statement, I stood up for what I believe, for I was talking from my heart. “You may say that this health bill is so great,” I started, “but it incorporates a section that includes abortion, the killing of innocent life, and I’ll tell you right now, that is wrong.” There was silence in the car all the way to the neurologist’s office. I didn’t ask him how he felt about the subject, but I do think I left him with something about which to think.

One of my close friends sent me a political email recently. Here again, the writer was complaining of something done by our nation’s government. I wrote back and asked him, “What do you plan to do about it? His response – “Who little ol’ me. What can I do?”

Someone sent me a saying recently by Ross Perot that I found most timely – “An activist is not a person who says the river is dirty. An activist is a person who cleans up the river.” Can his thoughts be fully understood as to what he was trying to convey? I think we have a lot of people in this country (maybe the world, too) who complain a lot about things and even are finger pointers exclaiming, “They oughta do something about that…” but never lend a hand when things actually have to be done.

I don’t care what organization to which people belong. There are always some who feel it is their God-given right to belly ache about something. Well, if they feel it is a God-given right, then God always expects the complainers to be doers instead. So much can be accomplished in this world if people pipe down and step up to the plate and contribute something more than idle words.

Patricia Cakke was born with one arm and only three fingers on her hand. Yet, the Bloomingdale, Arizona mother of two attends all the PTA meetings, helps out by selling refreshments during the school’s interscholastic activities, sits in on all the city council meetings sharing her view points with leaders of the municipality, and even is a member of her church’s leadership group. Does it sound as though you would hear her on the sideline yelling complaints? Somehow, I don’t think so.

Recently, I heard someone complain about our police department (PD) here in Latrobe. Most of the time, I revert to my original statement of not knowing enough about the goings on even though I can’t help but surmise it has to be in line with the administration to which I belonged in Ohio. The mayor and chief ran a tight ship, and I can only hope it’s that way here, too, but since I really don’t know, I’m not going to make up something. I did have a comeback, however. I spoke up in the PD’s defense, “You may not be aware of this, but there is a lot of area to cover with few cars, I began, “and even though you say they are never driving around, you are wrong – I know that without a shadow of a doubt. I’ve ridden with them endless times in the past.” He was left speechless.

Complaining is easy. Doing is harder. Do me a favor. Concentrate on the latter.

- Paul J. Volkmann
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