The “Las Vegas United” piece I wrote a couple of weeks ago resulted in some positive feedback from readers. It seems a lot of people agree that this town needs to set aside its differences for the common good, and for that I’m thankful.
However, it seems there’s another prevailing sentiment that didn’t occur to me until a couple of people pointed it out to me. This town, they told me, has too many people who just don’t care.
Apathy, they contend, is the prevailing viewpoint. Seems that a lot of people have concluded that nothing and no one can overcome the obstacles facing Las Vegas, so they just quit trying.
To that, I say: So what if some people don’t care. What they think doesn’t matter anyway.
• • •
It would be difficult to poll the people of Las Vegas to determine if they care about community issues, since those who don’t wouldn’t agree to the survey. So we can only guess as to the level of apathy in our community. But I’d venture to say that more people care than meets the eye.
For one thing, this is a very vocal town. I’ve mentioned this before: I was once the editor of a newspaper with four times the circulation the Optic has, in a town with a population about four times that of Las Vegas, and I didn’t get half the letters to the editor that I get here. That tells me that people here care, perhaps, even more than in most towns.
As further evidence that most Las Vegas and area residents care, I hold up this newspaper. Through our small but strong newsroom we cover a lot of news and events, and that which we cover gets talked about. I know I’m biased about this, since my livelihood and my passion are tied tightly to the Optic and its content, but I seldom go to any meeting or event where the Optic is not mentioned in one way or another.
People read their hometown newspaper in Las Vegas, and apathetic people generally don’t read newspapers.
That said, maybe I do care about apathetic people. I think if we could get them reading the Optic, they’d start caring more.
• • •
Have you ever heard of the “80-20 rule”? It stems from a complex economic theory called the Pareto Principle, defined by Wikipedia thusly: “For many events, roughly 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes.” I think it also applies to efforts to improve our community, where 80 percent of the work is done by 20 percent of the people.
You watch: If the gateway project is successful, a small minority of community leaders will make it happen.
Our problem in Las Vegas isn’t a lack of people who care, it’s that those who do care are too easily divided.
Tom McDonald is editor and publisher of the Optic. He may be reached at 505-425-6796, ext. 237, or email@example.com.