by Jill McCubbin (Councillor Almonte ward, Mississippi Mills)
I want to share an inspiring, articulate and thoughtful passage from a troubling news release that came to my attention just today, written by the Mayor, Township of Lanark Highlands, Brian Stewart. (You can read the full release here.) I bring to your attention the following, with his permission.
Lanark Highland’s community is reeling as the result of intolerance, gossip and misinformation being spread intentionally and non-intentionally. I immediately wrote Brian after reading his release to say how sorry I am to hear of the troubles and threats happening in Lanark Highlands — I also wrote him because what he had written really struck a chord with me and I wanted to tell him so — and to say I support his efforts to rebuild a trusting, positive, respectful community.
In my opinion, Brian writes of a reality that is plaguing and harming many municipalities, Mississippi Mills included. It is often hard to get such opinions and feelings into words. Brian has succeeded. He writes fairly, informatively and from his heart about a serious issue. From the release:
As much as I would like to blame the few “bad apples” who seem to form part of our community, ultimately we all need to take some responsibility for promoting positive change. We have to decide who we are as a community. Are we going to let ourselves fall victim to the self‐interests of those who prefer to sow dissension and disrespect in the face of facts? In my opinion, the attacks against staff and members of Council in social media and in our letters to the editor in our community newspapers achieve nothing. They are an indicator, to me at least, of the loss of respect for the people who work for us and those who are our elected representatives. We are all trying the best we can to serve this community, regardless of the views expressed in the rhetoric and baseless accusations being bandied about by some people…
… Truly, it is incumbent upon each of us within our community to eliminate the culture of intimidation, disrespect and bullying, if we are to keep our municipality’s reputation intact as a great place to live, work and play.”
Then in reply to my email thanking Brian, I received the following reply with a few more wise words:
Those who spend a lot of time on social media seem to take what is being said there at face value and as truth, and this has literally torn apart our community. That said, I do believe we need to persevere and believe that good will prevail and all the good we have done isn’t for nothing. We need to spread the word that this type of behaviour — spreading disrespect, lies, harmful gossip and dissension — is not going to be tolerated.
A very strong message for us all to consider.