(By Brandon Hansen/Managing Editor of the Chewelah Independent)
Well, we’re not the poorest town in Washington anymore, thanks to the latest round of internet websites saying that, in fact, Cheney is now the town that is the poorest.
Having been a college student at Eastern Washington University with a checking account balance of less than 200 bucks for much of my career there, I can vouch for that.
But one thing I think Chewelah still leads the state in is complaining. We complain A LOT. Whether it’s the city, the school, the state government, the Illuminati, Bigfoot being a member of the Illuminati, the pothole herds that roam our streets like elk, kids these days, those hoodlums at 2 a.m. who wander the streets, marijuana being the devil’s lettuce, Canadians being rude (apparently Canadians are only rude in Stevens County judging from overall comments of Canadian people), the food here, the water underground and I think I even heard someone call this place an Alien abduction hotzone.
The issue nowadays is thanks to the internet, anyone can post their complaints or issues online without any real fear of retribution other than some sort of snide Facebook response. Back before the 1990s, other than complaining to your neighbor, what other official action could you take to let people know you were upset? (Send a Letter to the Editor to The Independent! Which I highly recommend. Send me your complaints to email@example.com)
After watching roughly 1,263,287 history documentaries, I can say that history doesn’t really remember the day- to-day complaints of people. The average person, in say the first century, probably had to worry about getting killed by a roving band of scoundrels or invading army. They also had to worry about where their next meal came from, things like doctors back then being a raving loon who sniffed incense and the king getting a crazy hair to kill all the first born or something.
But when is the last time you saw big headlines of archeologists uncovering someone’s complaints about Roman roads, those dastardly Greeks and their crazy theatre play thingies or the Persians being jerks again?
Nope, what you hear today are those great works of architecture without modern machinery and how Renaissance astronomers discovered all the planets using primitive technology.
Nowadays, we’re complaining about how Elon Musk dared to use his personal money to create a new space launch system to better mankind. “There are people starving!” they say, but in reality, technology jumps have always demanded large sums of money, and poverty has always been a serious social issue. Those complaints skip over the reality that we’re seeing more and more people leave poverty than ever before. We’re also seeing crime drop to historic lows. It’s the safest time in human history right now.
Now I’m not Bob-Rossing our current reality. We live in vastly imperfect times, and have a lot to grapple with. Wars. Massive wealth inequity. A political system that seems broken. But let’s focus on how we can move forward, and not the Canadian at the drive-thru who is taking a little too much time getting an order.
(This coming from a guy who still complains about the Star Wars prequels.)
I mean, aren’t your fingers sore from all the angry tweets and Facebook memes?
You can help shape the direction our own city is going by being involved in the process and giving a lot of feedback to our elected officials. Showing up every few years to vote or occasionally showing up to a city council meeting because you’re angry isn’t going to shape positive change.
Our discourse has gone from long, deeply thought out arguments concerning policy and theory to someone typing angrily about how someone they never met is doing a terrible job, people thinking they’re enlightened because they used the term “Cheeto-in-Chief” and booing elected officials at events.
Same thing with other issues. Sick of crime? Get involved with a neighborhood watch. Vote for representatives and help causes that help combat drug addiction. Don’t just go “darn tweakers” when your bike gets stolen.
State politics bug the hell out you? Guess what, your representative’s email and phone number are public knowledge. Get a hold of them and let them know what’s going on at the ground level of their district. They respond at a scary quick pace.
Buuuutttt, don’t blame your dead dog on their laws. Don’t say you’re having a bad day so they should somehow fix it. If there are policy issues that you see affect large swathes of people, point it out. If your neighbor is making you mad, there’s probably not a whole lot they can do about it. Remember, politics have everything to do with policy and not with you being scheduled for the night shift.
There are things you can do to be an active and positive influence in your community. Channel some of those negative feelings into positive results. Life is never going to be perfect, and society is probably never going to be utopian. Now that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive for that, but if all you do is type angrily from your keyboard, all you’re going to accomplish is carpal tunnel.
(Look at Star Trek, they have food replicators and transporters and guys in red shirts are still dying right and left.)
When was the last time someone went down in history as one heck of a complainer?