Actions, not words, are the only thing that matters

Recently, a friend of mine posed the following question: What do you really give a hoot about now in this part of your life ... and have other things fallen off the list?

Ooooh. Good one.

My first thought was to be snarky. Like I give a hoot about whether the Giants can protect Eli this year or whether I can survive the Shop Rite parking lot in New London without becoming roadkill.

My second thought was to give a more surface-like, but politically correct answer: I give a hoot about my faith, my family and my friends.

And now for the truth: Recent developments in this corner of the world — from the salacious to the outrageous — inspired a deeper answer.

I mostly give a hoot now about doing right instead of being right.

I know. Odd answer for a snotty columnist. But the truth, nonetheless. How we treat people is the first domino. Everything falls into place after that.

Example: I wrote a piece over the weekend about the latest hubbub in the People's Republic of East Lyme. Quite a bit of prattle recently over $500,000 in budgets cuts to the education budget, complete with the requisite "he said, she said, they said" bromides.

Included in the cuts, subsequently chopped to $250,000, was middle school sports, along with other programs that would deny East Lyme kids the choices and blessings that other kids from town have enjoyed over the years and that have heightened the school system's reputation.

My point was simple: I don't care who said what to whom. Get in a room, check your egos and do what's best for the kids.

The responses are a contributing factor to today's discourse.

Elected officials, e-mailing me privately and posting comments to theday.com, were all about being right. He said, she said, they said. Justifying their existences and positions. Finger pointing. Blame assessment. They embarrassed themselves and didn't even know it. Because they must be right.

Once again with feeling: I don't care who is right. I care about doing right. In this case, doing right by the kids. Now that you've all postured, let's try to remember that you were elected to serve, not lecture. I care way more about what you do than what you think. So how about you all dump your egos into the stew, give it a good stir and come up with something that tastes better for the kids?

You know. The kids. Them. The voiceless.

Then there's New London. The only place in America where adult behavior could make the situation at Norwich Free Academy look like a Von Trapp family picnic by comparison.

The details are too gross to rehash.

So, I ask instead: Who in the 06320 would like to join me in a Mid-Year's Resolution to start doing right instead of being right more frequently?

This — yes, this — is what we all need to give a hoot about.

There's always going to be a sect out there who believes all of life is a game. Competition. Winning and losing. Just not when it comes to kids. This is when we all need to root for each other. Because when that happens, the voiceless find their voice.

We are supposed to be pushing kids toward the right choices. We're failing. And it's time to walk away from the keyboard, resist that pithy Facebook post and go do right by somebody else. Without fanfare. Because if you really want to know how to pull New London from the morass, it begins here: Let us strive to no longer be interested in what people say.

Just what they do.

I'll be happy to start.

I will help more, volunteer more and gossip less (although it's harder these days). I will help more kids. Donate more time. And stop caring about what anyone else can do for me. Just what I can do for them.

I will screw up. But I'll come back the next day and keep swinging.

Yes. This is what I truly give a hoot about.

Are you with me?

Before you answer ... don't say it.

Just do it.

The city needs us.

All of us.

Not to be right.

But to do right.

This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro

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