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Activists are the voice of the people
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Dear Editor,

A lot of people, friends included, roll their eyes when someone is described “an activist” or “issue person” – categorizing them as “kooks.” And, in truth, maybe some are.

But many are simply civic-minded individuals who see a real need to keep a check and balance on the “power and money” folks who want to live in a world of their own.

For those of you who are busy working, raising kids, going to school and sports events, taking care of aging parents, cutting grass, cleaning house and watching TV or playing video games — the activist is the only thing standing between your illusions or assumptions about power and money, and reality. The “power and money” folks are confident that people who live in a busy world and have pressing everyday challenges won’t notice, or speak up.

Consider this example: Locally, we all know that two more nuclear reactors are being built “in our backyard” — but how many of you know there is a nuclear dump site nearby as well? Both are on the Savannah River, which in essence brings them to our “front door.” Most folks cross their fingers and assume that safety is automatically a top priority, and that “the government” will surely enforce and monitor safety measures.

While the press can, and does, expose certain realities, they don’t wave a magic wand to fix them.

So it is the activist who watches, researches, educates and advocates on behalf of John Q. Public. In one recent hour-long phone conference, activists addressed things like: energy companies are not funding this nuclear waste disposal site, and government is unable/unwilling to do so as well; the U.S. may import nuclear waste from other countries to help pay for it;   employees at both are sometimes working 10-plus-hour days and have long commutes;  shortcuts are happening as budgets and deadlines aren’t met; safe drinking water is a low priority for studies and the granting of permits; these studies are chosen by the industries who have a stake and are cherry-picked, if not outdated altogether; and more around every corner ….

These activists attend hearings and meetings, even requesting public comment events, and confront those in charge “face-to-face.” The “power and money” folks hate them for sure.

While there are many issues where we simply “don’t want to know the truth,” the activist has courageously decided to face the inconvenient facts and live with “fear” — the fear that crystal clear reality brings.  While our successes may not be earth-shattering, they may be just enough to make a difference.

While you are crossing your fingers, please thank the next activist you meet, or better yet — decide to be one.

Claudia Collier