Showing Who We Are
During this election season, I’ve met with all three of the candidates for council, and not one of them is a serial killer or abuses small animals or steals from their grandma…that I know of. I bet they all recycle, pay their taxes, love their friends and families and return library books on time.
What’s most important to me in choosing who to vote for isn’t the candidate’s niceness to their friends or their history of volunteerism for any of the very worthy organizations that exist in our town.
It’s way more important to me that in a town that has seen so much division, name calling and hate speech between neighbors, that the candidates we elect are respectful of others and thoughtful in their responses. Especially to those folks with whom they don’t agree and don’t even like. A lot of that vitriolic discourse has happened on community social media spaces like BBQ–which everyone can read and North County News Facebook, which only people with Facebook accounts can read.
The on-line yelling back and forth between people is troubling. A lot of the fighting is about perceived past wrongs. None of it will ever be resolved in a public forum, but I don’t think resolution is what people are always after. Like Tu Pac and Notorious B.I.G. used to say, “Haters gonna hate.”
My mom called it airing your dirties in public–not a good look for anybody. Blaming and shaming doesn’t heal what hurts you, and doing it in a public forum just spreads the hurt to other people. We all choose a side. We start to think in camps–we like some people and decide not to like others because they’re friends with somebody we decided not to like. Does this remind anyone else of 7th grade?
As the election season draws to a close, I want to remember that this will be over soon. Whoever wins will need to be able to bring people together. This will be difficult for anyone with a history of serious long-standing beefs with members of the community and connections to some of the loudest haters.
People can change, and they do, but this kind of change isn’t quick. It takes awhile of living the change before others can see it. Like they say, you might be through with the past, but the past ain’t through with you. I think that’s true for our little town.
How people treat the people they love and care about is one thing, but to me, it’s how we treat people we don’t like that matters most. That, to me, is the measure of a good leader and a good person–how they treat the most disagreeable among us.
I want a council that can listen to and works with people of different perspectives, opinions and backgrounds. I want a council that can build consensus and moves things forward for the good of all of us. We can’t do that if we’re playing on any team other than Team Manzanita.
I want elected leaders who respect all the people in town regardless of whether they agree with them, or like them or not. I want people who play fair and aren’t driven to write and post the first thing they think of when they disagree with someone on the community websites. In fact, if I had my way, I’d like us all to get offline and get in person.
There’s the gossip and the conspiracies and way too much time spent on websites that provide a space to say the stuff to a screen that you wouldn’t dream of saying to a face.
People show us who they are. We all do every day and every moment of our lives. To me, the way we treat those we don’t like or agree with matters way more than how many hours we volunteer or how we treat our friends. You can’t volunteer away name-calling, misrepresenting issues you don’t agree with or shutting down comments with sarcasm and shame. You also can’t pretend like that past is gone without doing the work to make amends.
I’ve faced a dilemma in writing about this. I believe all three candidates are nice people. I believe all three are invested in the community. And I believe that to move forward, we need a council that comes without baggage from the past. And that’s another reason I’m voting for Brad Mayerle.