Stand Your Ground

It sometimes seems like all we do in Capreol is complain. We complain about the ridiculous conditions of our region’s roads. We complain about the sub-par snowploughing of our streets. We complain about our ever-increasing Municipal taxes and our ever-shrinking levels of service. We complain about the extended wait times at our town’s railroad crossing, the delays in our over-burdened health care, and more.

There’s a reason people complain—and it’s not just to blow off steam: complaining works. Provided you do it right.

For most of us complaining is instinctual. We don’t give it much thought and so others don’t either. Our friends and family humour us and everyone else either ignores us or, worse, complains about us. Neither achieves anything.

It may be cliche but ‘The squeaky wheel gets the grease’. And, when it comes to the disfunctional ‘greater’ city government, our town needs to squeak loud. Write, call, or visit you councillor with your concerns. Contact the mayor’s office and voice your displeasure. The local media is a great resource, a sternly worded ‘Letter to the Editor’ can do wonders.

So how do we complain effectively?

First, get mad. You’re going up against a faceless bureaucracy. It’s going to be frustrating and time consuming. Fury is the only motivation that will see you through from start to finish. It is also the only appropriate response when tackling the many issues facing our town.

But, and this is key, it must be a contained outrage. Directed. Purposeful.

Avoid name calling and insults. No screaming. No swearing. No threats or abuse. Remember that though the issue may mean the world to you it is just one of a hundred calls/letters/emails the person on the other end received that day. Be sure you have a purpose in mind. Write it down and pin it beside your phone or computer. Refer to it often. Be sure to state your purpose with each person you speak to, pepper every letter and email with it. And then don’t just gripe, gripe about something that can be fixed. Channel all your anger and fury into productive directions.

Above all, pick your battles. Don’t go running around as if the sky is falling over every slight. Changing the world (or even just our own little corner) is a marathon not a sprint. Pace yourself or else you’ll be exhausted before the end is in sight.

Stick to the facts. Repeat them over and over. Provide evidence when you can (photos or videos work well). Document everything: what happened, when it happened, who you talked to in what department. Remain calm. Remain collected. And, no matter what, never give up.

People may mock you, call you ‘naive’, or even crazy for trying. “You can’t fix city hall,” they say. “One person can’t stop progress.” There are all sorts of excuses for staying quiet and doing nothing. “Don’t rock the boat,” is a mentality to which many subscribe. But change happens. It happens every day, in big ways and small. Isn’t it better to be part of that, to help direct the changes, rather than sit on the sidelines and do nothing?

Petitions, information meetings, and even protests have their places. It doesn’t matter what you do, just that you do something. Governments, regardless of level, are complacent. If you don’t inform them of the problem they will happily assume all is well. Politicians live in self-imposed bubbles. It’s up to us to burst those bubbles—with a harsh dose of public outrage. Now get agitating.

Posted on: August 17, 2019, by :