Reader writes on new citizens’ group stressing respect

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A new ratepayer group in Almonte claims to speak for all taxpayers. PRATAC is not speaking for me.

I am not the only one who feels this way. A new ratepayer group is a good thing. Our town needs all the citizen involvement we can get. The more voices we hear, the better decisions our community can make. Decisions made in our community, not in a court room.

For our voice to be powerful and true our words must come from a place of love. Anger may be a starting point for change, but it is not the destination. Any change we want to see in our community can happen when it comes from a place of caring. Who will remind us of the things we love that bind us together as community? If not each one of us, then who?

Growing up in Almonte is not easy. It ain’t easy anywhere. Navigating our modern world is a chore. It is not just a cliché that our children are our future. They are, and they need all the help and guidance we can give them. If we can truly remember how we felt as children, we can remember how much our childhood affects the rest of our life

As a child maybe you found happiness in sports, or art, or nature. Perhaps there was someone who guided you there, many years ago, that you still remember well. We all have those people we looked up to that had a lasting effect on shaping our life and values. Maybe that person’s name was Don Maynard, or one of many other unsung community heroes.

In a recent conversation, I learned that for one person who grew up here, that name was John Levi. In turn I described making a puppet at Noreen Young’s camp as a happy experience I still remember. We both came away wiser. When we talk about our local politics and strive for what we believe is the better solution, let’s not forget the love that often sits at the root of our feelings – even anger.

Are we angry at the possibility of Don Maynard’s name not being honored because it is a name we love? Are you angry at comments about the mayor because they are someone who made a difference in your life? Let’s have the courage to say that. Be angry. Let it motivate us. But keep moving. Moving to that place where we speak from the heart. Whatever change we want to see, our power to affect that change will be greatest when it’s coming from that place.

I’m not ashamed to say that I struggled through my childhood. That at some points, I narrowly survived it. I say this not because I want sympathy, but as a father with concern for my daughters and what they will face. Concern for all our children. There were many things I tried and failed at before I found myself. Let’s be realistic and realize every child is the same.

We don’t know what that thing will be that will make a difference in a child’s life. Just because it was sports or arts or nature for you, it could be something else for your child. The more options we have for our children, in our community, the better chance we have to grow strong adults. Children are watching what we do, more than our words they will remember how we make them feel.

Our community and our children are not well served by drawing more lines in the sand. Now more than ever we need to find ways to respect each other, especially the ones we don’t agree with. How big are the problems in our community? How much do we have to be thankful for? Let’s keep it in perspective. Look at Houston, Florida or Puerto Rico right now. Divisions that separated people were gone in the blink of a hurricane’s eye. Leaving neighbor to help neighbor just to survive.

There is much we have to be thankful for, much we have in common across the lines we draw. I hear this from folks in our community.  The Friends of Mississippi Mills is a new citizen’s group where I am hearing this said, and I intend to join them in raising my voice to say the same. (Note that you will need to be a Facebook member to take part in the group’s discussions.)

Marc Snelling