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Don't just sit and wait for the world to change

Singer John Mayer comes to Buffalo tonight and I'm looking forward to once again seeing him and watching the continuing transformation he's making on stage, not only with the music he plays, but the lyrics he writes.

His current album "Continuum" has spawned a number of hits, including "Waiting On The World To Change," which has reached millions of young people. While thought-provoking, the lyrics of that song trouble me.

Mayer sings that he and his friends are misunderstood and that they mistakenly stand for nothing. He goes on to croon that there's no way they ever could, because they see everything that's wrong with the world and those who lead it. That his generation feels like they do not have the means to rise above and beat it. So they keep waiting, Mayer sings, for the world to change. You may have a hard time arguing Mayer's point of view when he sings: "It's hard to beat the system, when we're standing at a distance."

But in the current state of not only our nation, but our region, someone has to step up. At age 50 and having the benefit of once being a reporter who covered our community for 12 years, and being in business for myself for the past 16, I and many others have painfully watched our nation and community slowly sink on broken promises, failed policies and economic disasters.

Regardless, many have gotten involved in worthwhile efforts that attempted to turn things around, with the hope that Western New York would indeed return to an era of growth and prosperity. But with sides taken on such issues as the Peace Bridge, the downtown casino and the waterfront that have left us with little to no viable results, as well as watching so many young people leave our area for greener pastures and better jobs, we really haven't accomplished much, have we?

While we've lost a great number of our young people to other cities, a good number still remain. Some have involved themselves in community activism or groups targeting the nurturing and growth of young entrepreneurs. Others are contemplating getting involved in the political system and running for public office.

But unfortunately, more of those who are still here aren't doing the same. And that's what troubles me.

Despite the overall negativity that seems to permeate our region's collective psyche, if we are truly going to turn things around, our nation and our region, it's those to whom Mayer sings who must make a conscious decision to involve themselves -- right now.

Young people need to remember that Buffalo and Western New York will not be run by their parents in the years and decades to come.

Our 20-somethings must step forward and take a stand for something. They need to begin to change the world for themselves and, for that matter, all of us. They do have the means to "rise above and beat it." Getting involved in worthwhile business, community and political groups is a start. Attending meetings and speaking out, passionately, about the things you truly believe in can set off a chain reaction not only here, but across the nation.

So one day, as Mayer sings, your generation is truly going to "rule the population." But I hope it is under different circumstances. Please don't let your generation lose precious time by sitting on the sidelines, waiting for the world to change.

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