Musings from the ever-changing, ever-amazing and occasionally ever-baffling Fort McMurray, Alberta.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Throwing Rocks

There is an old adage: “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach.”

I have always disliked this adage as I found it disrespectful of those in our world who teach, as teachers of any sort are remarkable individuals (as anyone who has spent time with a classroom of boisterous students would know). I think the adage, however, has some value when you revise it a bit to reflect our current reality:

“Those who can, do. Those who can’t throw rocks at those who do.”

I must admit I was thinking this when a “document” surfaced recently in this community, one containing my name as well as the names of many other engaged citizens. The document suddenly appeared on Twitter and on a local Facebook page, with the origin or author of the document never revealed. I considered reproducing it here, but long ago I decided I would not give cowards the chance to use the platform I have created, and since the author of the document has not stepped forward I decline to give that kind of cowardice an audience. The general gist of it, though, were some vague allegations about citizens who are politically involved at both the federal and provincial level, but for different parties (“Mein Gott”, as my father would say when he was feeling particularly sarcastic after reading some idiocy in the newspaper – Mein Gott, the audacity to be involved in politics but with DIFFERENT PARTIES). The allegations were rather nebulous, the author of the anonymous document lacking in either the writing skill or courage to make themselves entirely clear. It doesn’t really matter, though, because it seems the intent was to smear those named, to create suspicion and doubt about them and to discourage their participation in democracy.

You see not everyone thinks democracy is a game everyone should play. They would rather hoard it to themselves, controlling the destiny of elections and of political parties. They object to the involvement of anyone who does not think like them and they fear anyone who may change what they think should not change - and fear is a powerful motivator (powerful enough that someone would spend their time to pen such a document, and powerful enough that they would be too afraid to put their name onto it).  And there are those who believe it is their right to simply throw rocks at other people, particularly at the people who are actually doing things for this community because it is much easier to throw rocks than to be involved in making a difference.

Several of the individuals named in that nebulous document are ones who are deeply involved in this region. They serve on the boards of non-profit organizations. They work with groups and individuals to make this a better place. They have invested heavily in this region, not just with their cash but with their hearts and their time and that investment has been made because this is their home. It is disheartening – and even angering – to see others throw rocks at them from the sidelines, particularly given those throwing rocks seem more invested in that hobby than in investing in this community.

Rock throwing doesn’t build a community. Creating and sharing anonymous, ill-spirited and accusatory documents doesn’t build a community. Differences of opinion can and should occur and be encouraged, but these kinds of anonymous personal attacks designed and created to damage others? They have no place in this community, particularly during a time when we are facing some significant challenges and we need to pull together, not apart.

For the record I was not particularly troubled to read my name in that document, as I have become used to being a target of rocks by virtue of this blog. It did trouble me, though, to see the names of others who I know work hard every day for this community, and to see that those throwing rocks at them were quite happy to name them, but far too cowardly to name themselves. Those who choose to share those anonymous documents simply encourage that kind of cowardice, and allow it to breed while using it as a shield from behind which they can throw their own rocks.

“Those who can, do. Those who can’t, throw rocks at those who do.”

Mein Gott, I know which side of that adage I intend to be on. The only question is: do you? 

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