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Let’s move on to Step Two

When I was younger, I used to have a personal motto that was a bit harsh in retrospect: “Crying is just a waste of energy you could be using to fix the problem.”

As I’ve grown up, however, I think what I really meant was “complaining” instead of actually “crying.” That’s because tears are a natural reaction, but most of the complaints I hear are just whining with no intention of fixing anything.

This is on my mind because I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how things are here where I was born and raised. Maybe it’s just because elections are upcoming or maybe I just hear more things in this job than I did before, but it feels like everyone is talking about our quality of life.

It is no secret that eastern North Carolina (and more specifically, the Roanoke-Chowan area) is economically distressed. It’s no secret that we are very rural and very far away (physically and culturally) from any urban centers. It’s no secret that many school systems around here struggle to keep up and provide the best opportunities for our students. It’s certainly no secret that many people struggle to make a living here.

It’s no secret because we talk about it and hear about it all the time. Sometimes it’s from reporters who live in a city far, far away, who come here to write about the problems of eastern NC as if to say “take pity on these people.” Sometimes it’s from people closer to home, who just love to talk and talk and talk about how awful everything is and how there’s no hope of anything ever changing.

I listen and read and remember these attitudes. I think other young people remember these attitudes too until it’s ingrained in all of our heads.

I’m not going to say these complaints aren’t valid because we can’t deny that there are many problems here where we live. But identifying the problem is only Step One.

Step Two is actually working towards fixing the problem.

I would like to know what the complainers are doing to fix the issues we have. What are you doing to attract new businesses to the area? What are you doing to support the local businesses we have now? What are you doing to support local school systems? What are you doing to help out people in need who live in our community? What are you doing to give young people reasons to stay in the area?

There are already plenty of people in the Roanoke-Chowan area doing work to promote change for the better and to improve the quality of life here. They can always use more hands to help out.

I know I need to do more as well.

The road to progress isn’t like those moving sidewalks you use in airports to get to your destination faster. It’s not automatic. You have to walk forward yourself to get to where you need to go. If you stand around just talking about how the road is dusty and full of potholes, then you’ll never get anywhere at all.

So if you want to sit around and talk about how things are just getting worse, maybe just save your breath. That’s not helping anyone at all. It instead promotes an attitude of discouragement and it ruins the motivation to improve.

There is so much to love about this part of the world if only we could just focus on it.

I think I’ll get off my soapbox now and stop complaining about the complainers. That’s enough wasted energy for one day. Time to move on to Step Two.

Holly Taylor is a Staff Writer for Roanoke-Chowan Publications. Contact her at holly.taylor@r-cnews.com or by phone at 252-332-7206.