I’ve heard this saying more times than I care to count. “You Can’t Fight City Hall.” Essentially, people are saying that it’s foolish to fight a battle you’ll inevitably lose. You’ll get tangled in a bureaucratic nightmare from which you’ll never emerge unscathed. You can’t, so you shouldn’t even try. I think that’s ridiculous.
Let’s be clear: When you’re standing against wrong things, you can fight City Hall. And win.
Let’s start with having the right frame of mind. Thinking you can’t fight and win is defeatist. You’ve lost before you’ve started. Such thinking transforms you and your family into victims of others’ wrongful choices. But you’re not a helpless victim. Your opinion matters, and what you do and say can have an effect. I’ve read countless books and articles about people who chose to take a stand and changed the way we see and do things. They spoke up and action happened. (I plan to highlight some of them on this blog, soon.)
So, here’s what you can do.
You can speak up. Use your voice and pen. Attend public meetings where issues related to your concern are discussed. Be bold and ask questions. Call and write your local, state, and federal representatives to express your concerns and ask them the very same questions. Ask those representatives about other sources for information. Once you’ve done your homework, request that an investigative news team takes a look at the issue that’s concerning you. Be available for quotes or interviews, if necessary.
You can use social media to educate others about your concern. Facebook, Twitter, and many online communities can be a fantastic tool to get the word out. Plus, others may offer points of view you haven’t considered. It will force you do research and learn. It will sharpen your arguments so that you’re ready to take on the inevitable obstacles that will arise. Others might even volunteer to help once they see that someone is concerned about an issue. In many ways, social media has leveled the playing field for the average citizen.
You can mobilize others for action. You’ll need to do your homework. Gather facts, pictures, or whatever documentation you can to support your concerns. Then find people who are affected by your concerns and meet to talk about these issues. Set an action plan and divide responsibilities. Often, people are just as worried as you, but they lack the leadership skills to do something about it. Or, they don’t believe anyone else cares about the same issue and become emboldened when they see someone else ready to tackle it. You’ve heard the tag “be the change.” There’s wisdom there: be the person who gets it moving. You’ll be the change.
You can vote. Sometimes the proverbial “City Hall” is made up of those individuals we elect to lead us. When leadership is lacking, or when things are heading in the wrong direction, we have a choice to make. Do we continue to support that person? Do we volunteer or financially support other candidates so that they have the best chance for success? Absolutely. What have you got to lose? Show up at the ballot box. Invest your finances, if you’re in a position to do so. Give your time.
You can run for office. Sometimes having a dog in the fight draws more public attention to the issues you care about. You’ll have a campaign platform … and you might even win.
When you’re concerned about something wrong in your community, the question really is: will you fight? Speaking up takes a certain amount of stick-to-itiveness. Tenacity. It takes a willingness to ignore all of the good reasons to stay quiet. But the bottom line is this: your voice matters. You can take a stand. You can fight City Hall … and win.