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The Concerned Taxpayers of Coles County have really got something going.

I don't care if you agree or disagree with their arguments regarding the fairness or lack thereof related to recent property tax assessments. These guys have a beef with the county's leadership, and they're doing something about it.

So where are you? Sitting at home on the couch?

I know. Most of us work too much and have other responsibilities that keep us from attending the county or other government meetings on a regular basis. That's, in part, why you have this newspaper -- to keep abreast of what taxpayer-funded bodies are doing with your money.

And we journalists do the best we can, but we can't be everywhere all the time. So your responsibility as a citizen remains, if you choose to be involved.

The folks behind Concerned Taxpayers are busy, too, with work and other responsibilities. But they're cooperating with each other and they're making time to stand up for what they think is right.

They do videos explaining their viewpoint and offering what they say is evidence of alleged questionable practices by the county. They present the monthly Coles County Board meeting on Facebook Live. They plan to find qualified candidates for future elections to replace some members of the county board who they believe have fallen short of doing their duties.

They're like a dog with a bone, and they're not letting go.

Of course, you might say this happens a lot -- but it's different: It's usually hollow. Ever-encroaching into our lives, social media gives us plenty of examples of people grabbing onto an issue and not letting go.

And they harp and they cuss and they gripe and they, ultimately, do nothing.

Democrats complain about everything from Republican policies to the shoes the first lady is wearing. The GOP whines about all things under the sun from Democratic proposals to the hairstyles of young Dreamers.

And if you don't know who Dreamers are, you're really not paying attention to the world at all, are you?

But that's all most people do: complain, do nothing, and then complain about people with whom they disagree when the latter do something.

I'm not the out-along-the-street, sign-holding type. Not that there's anything wrong with that. But it's not my style, probably because I'm a journalist and I'm usually covering or helping to cover these kinds of things.

But you know what? Hats off to those who do that. A salute to the folks who organized and participated in recent rallies in Charleston. At least they are doing something about a cause in which they believe.

Maybe they could better spend their time doing charitable works instead of standing along the street with a sign. Sure. But there's nothing to stop them from doing both.

Yet, I ask again: Where are you? Still sitting on the couch at home?

Then you have no room to criticize those who are doing something. Oh, people will do it anyway, but it's hollow.

That's why I say there's a tip of the hat owed to Concerned Taxpayers. They're people of action, and that's rare these days.

Refreshingly, in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, action is what this country needed, and action is what we got. Seemingly everyone stepped up to say, "How can I help?", and they put their money and their plans in motion to answer their own question.

So why do we devolve into just harping at each other on social media so much these days?

I guess it's easier.

Sniping at each other on the internet takes less effort than having a real, mature discussion about issues, and actually trying to solve problems. Our nation's leaders certainly provide little example of anything better than spitting in each other's faces -- figuratively speaking (so far). Why would the electorate be any different?

It's one thing to have an opinion. Everyone has opinions.

It's my opinion that the tiny fracas over the name of Douglas Hall at Eastern Illinois University is ridiculous. The residence hall is named after a historic figure involved in a historic local event, and the "whys" and "hows" are explained in a display inside the attached Stevenson Hall.

The world has bigger issues than made-up problems like this.

I think to say some recent strife among Americans is about statues is childish and naive. Take those oversimplified memes on Facebook and trash them.

I think our current president is an embarrassment, but I wish him success in taking the country in a positive direction for all Americans. I'm still waiting on that to start, though.

So, there is having an opinion -- and then there is doing something about it. In a phrase: "Practice what you preach."

I won't support a change to the name of Douglas Hall. I will speak out against racism and any kind of violence. I will not accept as "normal" some of the behavior of Donald Trump (but I also won't blindly say that 100 percent of what he does is wrong, either).

I think all Americans should be pitching in to help all those affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, so I made my own donations to assist.

I think Concerned Taxpayers of Coles County may have some valid points, so I'm paying attention.

We all need to stop with the Monday morning quarterback routine and get on the field and sweat to get things done. Speak up -- respectfully -- when someone spouts something with which you disagree. Vote. Don't just harp on Facebook -- do something constructive in the world.

Speak up. If you can't act -- volunteer, rally, donate -- at least don't stay silent. If nothing else, you can "speak out" at the ballot box.

I'm sick of people spouting stereotypes and talking *at* each other, casting all conservatives in a certain light or painting all liberals with the same brush, or assuming someone must be either on the right or the left, nowhere in-between.

So I wrote this little column. Now it's your turn. Send your letter to the editor to Join a group. Do some volunteering. Send a donation for hurricane relief. Give blood.

Step out of the stands and put yourself into the lineup. You've got to go all-in to actually play the game.

Penny Weaver is the associate publisher and editor of the JG-TC. Her columns include her own opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinion or editorial position of the JG-TC. Contact her at or 217-238-6863, and follow her on Twitter @PennyWeaver.


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