Remember your manners

Well, the nominations have closed and voters in Salmon Arm have a wealth of choices for the upcoming municipal election

Well, the nominations have closed and voters in Salmon Arm have a wealth of choices for the upcoming municipal election, both for city council and school board.

With four mayoral candidates, 15 for the six spaces on council and four for school board, the electorate will have to pay attention to whose vision and plans fits with their values when making a choice at the ballot box.

At the outset, I would like to congratulate all the candidates who have put their names forward for municipal office. Politicians, like journalists, get a lot of flack – sometimes deserved, sometime not so much.

So it takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there for the  whole community to judge your worthiness, and then to also face continual criticism from those in the community who may not agree with your position. It takes fortitude to voice an unpopular opinion or to vote against the crowd.

All the candidates will have slight variations in their reasons for running. Some may have a pet issue, some may have a series of goals; some may have experience, others may feel a fresh voice is what’s needed. But everyone running believes they have something to offer the citizens of this city.

Putting all cynicism aside, people do not run for city council because it is a glamorous or high-paying job. It is a difficult job that requires preparation, research and sometimes clashing with the opinions of valued friends and neighbours.

I think every person out there puts their name on the ballot because they have a desire to make a difference in their community.

And this motivation deserves the respect of the rest of us.

Let me say this more loudly and in the immortal words of Aretha Franklin – R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

In this age of Twitter, Facebook and all other social media, I see some real loss of basic manners and politeness.

In my own experience as someone who shares her views in print on a weekly basis, I see a disintegration of basic respect for each other that directly corresponds to the medium being used. There’s almost a hierarchy of nastiness. From least to worst it goes: in person, by telephone, by letter (which also depends on whether it is a signed or unsigned letter), email and finally posts on social media. People who speak to me face-to-face, even if they are angry and disagree with my position, are generally respectful and remember the basic manners their mothers taught them as preschoolers. But there seems to be some disconnect when it comes to some peoples’ use of social media. They say things on the web, often to large audiences, that they would never say to that person’s face.

In my mind, if you wouldn’t say it to that person if you were seated across the kitchen table from them, does it really need to be said (or posted) in that way?

For this election, I’d like to see weighty discussion and hard questions, but I’d also like people to avoid petty, rude or nasty comments. Disagreement is fine, disrespect is not.



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