A Bladen County resident came before the Board of County Commissioners this week with a problem. It doesn’t really matter what town he is from. It doesn’t matter who he is. The problem is the very same for many residents of Bladen County, the state of North Carolina and beyond.
But the problem we refer to now isn’t the one brought before the county commissioners.
The man’s perceived problem was that his commissioners, specifically the ones who directly represent his district, don’t communicate with him or his neighbors about issues big and small. Nor do they, he said, make any attempt to attend community meetings held in his district on a monthly basis.
To this man, the problem is a serious one. But it’s not his biggest problem.
We will diagnose his real problem as inattentiveness. And it’s a problem that is both rampant and contagious — and without treatment can manifest itself into apathy.
As was pointed out by County Chairman Ray Britt on Monday, all of the information asked for by the individual — primarily about the GenX issue — was widely and extensively publicized in advance by local media, as was the coverage of the community meetings and any information supplied by state officials.
Apparently, this individual and those he was a spokesperson for don’t pay attention to newspapers or websites. Instead, they would rather, we assume, have their elected officials spend their days out walking neighborhoods to talk about issues of the day — every day.
But the fact is, we are well past the Little House on the Prairie days, when door-to-door visits or gatherings at the mercantile were the best forms of news exchange.
There was also concern voiced about community meetings that had not been attended by commissioners in his district. When he was asked, it was revealed that none of the meetings had ever been publicized through the local media, the county manager’s office or to the commissioners themselves. Elected officials are a lot of things, but they are not clairvoyant.
This kind of inattentiveness, however, is only the tip of the iceberg nowadays.
Very few residents attend local meetings. Very few play a regular or even rare active role in local government and the committees necessary to get things done. For most, their voices are silent and they are absent 99 percent of the time — until something happens they don’t like or they get a wild hair about running for office.
The finger-pointing done by the individual rang hollow to us, because everything brought out as a problem could easily have been avoided with a little effort on his part. But in this case, he expected the county commissioners to take on all the responsibility … not cool.
We’d like to see the public become more involved — attend meetings, pay attention to what the media is reporting, write letters to the editor and question elected officials when necessary. Yes, we challenge YOU; we double-dog dare YOU.
Or, you can just stay in your own little bubble wondering why you don’t get personally spoon fed what you think you need.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“To be apathetic is literally to be without passion.” (Erwin McManus)