I continually see rallies across the nation to protest a wide variety issues. This past Saturday there was a rally in downtown Raleigh with Rev. William Barber, head of the state NAACP, in the lead to protest HB2 and other issues. By some estimates, it was attended by about 20,000 people.
While this latest rally was going on, I was with a group of men from the Knights of Columbus. We were building a ramp on the front of a house for a man confined to a wheelchair. This type of project is just one of many, including projects to make bagged meals for less fortunate families, that we do on a continuing basis to provide service to those who need our help. We don’t consider race, color or religion when we take on these projects. The size of our group forces us to limit the size and scope of our efforts. With more people we could accomplish more.
I thought about all the rallies that Barber has led and I wondered how much impact 20,000 people could make on cleaning up the depressed neighborhoods in our area so children would not have to play in trash-filled lots. How many people would be grateful to have someone come by and help with small repairs to their homes, or even to bring some donuts and stop for a short chat?
Maybe some of the money the NAACP spends on rallies could instead be spent on renting dumpsters and buying paint and supplies to make living conditions more bearable for those they claim to represent and care so much about. If every person at the rally on Saturday gave $10 they would have $200,000 to actually do something beneficial for the community.
My friends and I are too busy to attend rallies. We have decided to put our time, talents and treasure to use doing something beneficial for our community. We don’t have time to complain about what is wrong because we are actually working to correct those wrongs. Some of the guys in my group of friends don’t have money to fund these projects but they still stand in the cold or heat pounding nails or putting in screws or even just carrying materials so they can help.
Whining about how bad things are accomplishes nothing. Picking up a shovel or rake or paintbrush and actually making an effort to do something may help. It might even inspire others.
Years ago when I lived in Florida, a business colleague mentioned that he had paid a plumber $50 to come out and screw a sprinkler head back on. I asked why he didn’t just do it himself. He replied that he was successful enough that he could afford to pay someone to take care of their minor jobs so he didn’t have to get his hands dirty. The arrogance of his reply stunned me. He was upset when I suggested he could have put the sprinkler back on himself and donated the $50 to feed the homeless. He responded that feeding the homeless was the government’s job. This is the attitude I see all the time: “Let government do it.”
I probably will never attend a rally because I prefer to take a more direct action.
Michael Doran of Raleigh is a retired career law enforcement officer an a frequent volunteer for civic groups.